1. PREPARE the squash: Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the squash into 1-inch strips. Use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to remove the skin and scoop out the seeds.
2. HEAT a cast-iron skillet to medium high. Drizzle a bit of olive oil into the pan; when hot, add the squash rings in one layer. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cover the skillet—you want to create steam. Steam for 3-5 minutes; flip and repeat. When the squash is browned and tender, transfer to a cutting board. When cool, cut into chunks.
3. WIPE the pan and reheat to medium high. Add another drizzle of olive oil. Place the ear of corn in the center of the pan and let it cook without flipping for 3-5 minutes; rotate slightly and repeat. (Letting it sit on the heat for a few minutes is what makes it char.) Keep flipping the corn until it is golden and a bit charred. Remove from the heat and transfer to the cutting board. When cool enough to handle, use a sharp knife to remove the kernels from the cob. Set aside
California Pizza Kitchen creates a Cobb Salad with beets and blue cheese. Photo courtesy KPC.
4. COOK the bacon. Wipe the pan and cook the strips on medium heat, using tongs to flip until evenly cooked and crispy. (You may need to do this in 2 batches.) Set aside to cool, then coarsely chop or crumble. Pour out the bacon grease (you can reserve it to cook eggs, potatoes, whatever) and wipe out the skillet about 75% of the way; you want a little of the bacon grease and fond (the crisp tiny bit) to cook the chicken in.
5. COOK the chicken. Season the breasts with salt and pepper and a bit of paprika for color (you can add other spices if you wish). Cook on medium heat, adding a touch of olive oil if pan seems dry. Flip each breast after 3-5 minutes depending on thickness. Cook for another 3-5 minutes or until cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board and chop into bite-size pieces.
6. COOK the eggs. This part can be done while some of the other ingredients are cooking. Place 3 eggs in a small pot of water and turn the heat to high. Once boiling, cook for 5 minutes. Drain the hot water and immediately submerge the eggs in cold water for a few minutes. Peel and slice the eggs.
7. MAKE the dressing. Whisk together the maple syrup, vinegar and olive oil, tasting to see if you’d like it sweeter or more vinegary. Add salt and pepper to taste.
8. ASSEMBLE the salad. Top the greens with all the prepared ingredients except the avocado and bacon. Halve, cube and add the avocado right before serving. Drizzle the dressing over the top. Add the bacon at the table (or immediately before bringing the dishes to table) so it acquire moisture from the salad and lose its crunch.
COBB SALAD HISTORY
Cobb Salad was invented in Hollywood. Late one evening in 1937, Bob Cobb, owner of The Brown Derby restaurant, was scrounging in the kitchen’s refrigerator for a snack. He grabbed a mix of ingredients: a head of iceberg lettuce, an avocado, some romaine, watercress, tomatoes, a cold breast of chicken, a hard-boiled egg, chives, cheese and some old-fashioned French dressing.
He then took some crisp bacon from a chef’s station and started chopping. He shared the snack with his friend Sid Grauman of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, who came back and asked for a “Cobb Salad” the next day. It was put on the menu and became an overnight sensation. Movie mogul Jack Warner regularly dispatched his chauffeur to pick one up.