The first Cobb salad I ever had was at the Fairview Dining Room at the Washington Duke Inn in the early 1990s, shortly after I started working at Duke University. To this day, it is my favorite Cobb salad in a restaurant and my gold standard for all others. The Washington Duke Inn has since renamed it the “chopped salad,” but luckily the ingredients are basically the same as decades ago.
One of the things I love about this filling salad is that you can change ingredients to fit your tastes and diet. For example, if you don’t eat meat, substitute black beans or tofu for the chicken and leave off the bacon. Fresh tomatoes aren’t in season? Use plum, grape or cherry tomatoes instead. The possibilities are endless, just make sure you are using the freshest ingredients possible.
Many restaurants like to plate this salad with the ingredients in rows on top of the lettuce, but I prefer to toss the salad instead. It’s entirely your choice! Plus, put the ingredients in any order you like — it’s your salad after all. Same with the dressing — you can either drizzle it on top of the salad or serve it on the side.
Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
- 10 cups lettuces of your choice (I used romaine and red leaf)
- 2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 3 hard-boiled eggs, crumbled
- 1 cup tomato, chopped small
- 1 cup thawed green peas
- 1 small red onion, diced small
- 1 cup avocado, diced
- ¼ fresh lemon, juiced
- Fresh ground pepper and salt, to taste
- 8 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
- Cheddar cheese, grated (for garnish)
- Salad dressing of choice (I like my homemade bleu cheese, ranch or a vinaigrette)
Place the lettuces in a large bowl and toss until well mixed. Add the chicken to the middle of the salad.
Place the eggs next to one side of the chicken and the tomatoes on the other side.
Next add the avocado and the onions.
Finally, cover the remaining lettuce with the peas and the bleu cheese crumbles.
Sprinkle the salad with the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Top the salad with the bacon and cheddar cheese. Doesn’t this look so festive!
I like to toss my Cobb salad to mix up all of the ingredients and have my dressing on the side. Serve with crackers or crusty bread and a glass of nice white wine.