There’s always, always, always something to be thankful for. And when it comes to an odd-hour craving, or a starving foodie at home, I thank Mr. Bob Cobb — the man who, got kissed by serendipity, and gave us one of the most legendary salads in America’s culinary history. Story goes that the Cobb Salad was born in a midnight in late 1930’s, when a hungry Bob Cobb, owner of the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant in Los Angeles, had to use up kitchen and refrigerator left overs in the middle of the night to feed himself. He loved it so much, that he’d put it up on the menu, only to make it an overnight sensation with his customers and later, generate a wave across the country. Another version of the theory claims that Cobb was on his way to fix a quick late night snack for his friend and a Chinese theater owner, Mr. Sid Grauman, when he ended up making Cobb salad by chance. Since his good friend had a very bad toothache that evening, a thoughtful Mr. Cobb had chopped down all the surplus foods he could find in his refrigerator. Believe on the historical account-A or B, I am much thankful. And I am very happy Mr. Cobb did what he did. Why?
Well, because one, he got me a genius “clean-out-my-fridge recipe”. Two, because end of a work-laden-day, his idea spares an exhausted moi from picking herself up to cook or bake to feed her ever so hungry husbandman and her half-dead-by-then self. Those trying days, I don’t even bother to sear any meat or boil eggs, if I don’t have any made ahead of time in my refrigerator. We happily make and gobble down our fresh vegetarian Cobb salad — though teensy bit less on proteins, they taste great in their own way. Traditionally, a French or a ranch dressing is used on a Cobb salad, but I add my homemade creamy avocado dressing to this salad instead, for lots of added mmm’s and aah’s. You really gotta try it! Find the link to this uber light and healthy avocado dressing at the end of recipe below, or look up my last post (in blog archives, under “condiments & accompaniments”). Fortunately, the spread of this salad also allows my two little picky-eaters to pick and choose what they’d like to eat from among the many fresh ingredients that make up the dish. Lastly, the Cobb salad is one of only a couple salads in American menus, that’s considered a main-dish (and not a typical salad served on the side). Having said that, it doesn’t need a side-dish to compliment it. It’s already got the colors, textures and taste variations. May be all you’ll need is a glass of sparkling wine to wash it all down and you’re sorted!
Though this salad is a common find in most (if not all) American restaurants and takeaway food joints, I rather prefer doing it fresh at home. It’s so easy to do and put together after all. Moreover, if it’s not for an insanely busy day, I do not usually like buying boxes of pre-packed cut veggies, meat and fruits from the store. The beauty of Cobb’s is that it provides you tons of scope to improvise and innovate. I love fish, seared Salmon in particular in this salad, because it’s soft, juicy, delicate and flaky. However, you could use the same marinade to sear shrimps or chicken instead. You may use your favorite red meat here too, but I prefer lean white meat, or fish to keep it overall lighter. Traditional Cobb’s uses bacon. Moreover, the eggs and salmon could be replaced with several prettysome vegetarian options to choose from.
Nutrition-wise, and depending on what your salad constitutes, Cobb salad makes almost a one-dish complete dinner. Since it’s packed with greens, vegetables, eggs and meat, Cobb’s is high on vitamins, proteins and delivers a good dose of essential minerals and micro-nutrients. Classically, all the Cobb’s salad components are arranged in lengthwise rows, over the spring mix or lettuce leaves. Nonetheless, you don’t need to feel the pressure to arrange them all. Chop, and cobble them all together however you like and there you go…treat yourself to a perfect Cobb salad! The pan-seared salmon provides such a flavorful delicious edge to this recipe…you’d not want to miss out on this one!
Serves 4 – 5
- 0.5 lb or 250 gm fresh Salmon fillet
- 3 to 5 hard boiled eggs
- 1 small cucumber
- Half of a red bell pepper (red capsicum)
- 1 avocado
- 8 oz or 100 gm sweet corn
- 10 to 12 cherry tomatoes
- 4 oz or 100 gm Feta or Blue cheese, crumbled
- One to two handfuls plain or seasoned croutons
- 5 tbsp garlic paste
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 5 tbsp red chilly flakes or paprika
- About 1/4 US cup or 60 ml or 4 tbsp light olive oil
- About 100 gm salad spring mix or shredded lettuce
- 1 small red onion (optional)
- Handful of parsley, leaves picked, for garnish (optional)
- Salt to taste
- Slice and divide the salmon fillet into 6 portions. Marinade with white vinegar, garlic paste, paprika and some salt. Keep aside for at least 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, de-shell the eggs and slice into halves. Slightly steam the sweet corns and drain out excess water in a colander. Chop red bell pepper. Peel, stone and slice avocado. Slice the cucumber lengthwise or width-wise, into rounds or rectangles. Slice the tomatoes into halves. Peel and slice the onion into half, and then lengthwise.
- Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan over high medium heat and roast the salmon slices in two batches, cover cooking each side for about 3 to 5 minutes, till just done, juicy and slightly flaky. Do not overcook.
- Spread a bed of the spring mix or shredded lettuce on a serving tray. As is classically done, arrange all the cobb salad components in lengthwise rows, over the leaves. Alternatively, divide and portion the salad into separate salad bowls or plates for individual servings. Serve immediately with this Fresh Creamy Avocado Dressing.
Substitutes and Variations⇒
- In place of Salmon, use the marinade recipe to fry/sear/grill your favorite fish fillet, shrimps, white or red meat.
- If blue cheese or Feta isn’t readily available, use cubes of fresh mozzarella or tofu instead
- For a low-carb, low-fat Cobb salad: Use baked lean meat, add egg whites only, skip the croutons and the cheese (or use reduced fat cheese), and avoid grilled/fried veggies.
- For additional seasoning, you could use one or more of these: fresh ground pepper, minced/roasted garlic, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, lime juice or Dijon mustard
- For a yummy Vegetarian Version⇒
Replace the salmon and eggs with one or more from these options:
Blanched green beans, cooked/smoked chickpeas or garbanzo beans, roasted beetroot slices, cooked quinoa, grilled zucchini or other veggies, etc.