This may be only the second time in my entire adult life that a salad has sufficed for my entire dinner (the other time being when I made my Balsamic Vinaigrette Marinated Steak Salad). That being said, I feel like I’m cheating in actually calling this a salad. I like to think of this as something closer to a carb-less sandwich: lettuce, tomato, chicken, bacon, avocado, and cheese, but without any bread in sight. Heck, I could have added croutons and called it “Chicken Club, Deconstructed”.
Instead, I added a vinaigrette and some hard-boiled eggs, and therefore deemed it a Cobb salad. Technically I used Feta instead of the traditional blue cheese, but there were no complaints from my wife about that substitution. Switching cheeses meant a little less color in the presentation of the dish (Cobb salads always look so fantastic when presented, don’t they?), but as some people have a real aversion to the purposely moldy stuff, I believe it served to make this salad more palatable for the picky eaters out there.
For the chicken, I used a technique suggested by The Kitchn, and it worked wonderfully. So quick and simple, it was the easiest part of assembling this dish. Actually, this salad was pretty much the easiest thing I’ve made so far in my kitchen. With so many delicious ingredients to prepare, I can’t pretend that it wasn’t a bit time consuming for a salad, but every aspect was nothing but busy work. Also, if you plan your time wisely (as I’ve tried to help you do with my recipe directions), you can get pretty much everything finished between the time your chicken goes into the oven, and when you slice it up once it’s had a chance to rest.
Honestly, the most difficult part of creating this salad may be trying to serve it once it’s all ready to go. If you proudly display it on a large Jamie Oliver serving plate like I did (regular serving plates not attached to celebrity chefs work as well, I suppose), then converting to individual-sized portions afterwards is a bit tricky. Making sure you have a proper ratio of cheese, meat, and veggies means you have to work your way across the salad, not forgetting anything – and then there’s still the business of tossing it yourself once you’ve filled your bowl. At the same time, your beautiful presentation is quickly ruined after the first person has their go at it. Oh well – first world problems, right?
Seriously though, this is a salad for people who don’t like salads. Being a man, I know my gender has more than it’s fair share of those who don’t consider a salad to be a meal – or even an acceptable side dish. I used to be of that persuasion, but my priorities are slowly shifting, and I’m choosing to eat more health-consciously. This salad may not be a huge step in that direction (chicken, bacon, cheese and eggs sounds more like a hearty breakfast than a salad), but it’s a step nonetheless. Perhaps you could think of it was like a gateway salad. Or…perhaps not.
Cobb Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1/2 head romaine lettuce, torn
- 3 vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
- 1-2 avocados (depending on size), cubed/sliced
- 3 large eggs
- 6 strips of crispy fried bacon, diced
- 100-150 g. fresh feta, crumbled
- salt and pepper
- Herbes de Provence
- Olive oil
For the vinaigrette:
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- The chicken breasts dictate how long it takes to make this meal, so get started on them first. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and coat a small baking dish with olive oil to prevent the chicken from sticking. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper, place the breasts in the baking dish, then sprinkle a little Herbes de Provence over the top of both. Take a piece of parchment paper, coat one side with olive oil, and cover the chicken with it, oily side down. Tuck the edges of the parchment paper under the chicken breasts, enveloping them. Bake for 35 minutes. When that time is up, check for doneness – adding a few more minutes of baking if necessary – and remove to a cutting board to cool.
- Once the chicken is going, concentrate on the eggs. Place them in a medium-sized pot or saucepan and fill with water until the waterline is about an inch above the top of the eggs. Add a few dashes of salt to the water, bring it to a boil, then turn off the heat completely, cover, and allow to cook for 11-13 minutes. After that time, strain out the water and run the eggs under cold water for a minute or two to help stop the cooking process.
- While the chicken is roasting away, and the eggs are cooking, focus on preparing all the other ingredients. Dice the tomatoes, cube the avocado, wash and tear the lettuce, fry up the bacon (if not already prepared), and crumble the feta. Essentially, make sure all the other ingredients are ready for when the chicken finishes up in the oven and cools slightly.
- To make the vinaigrette, simply combine the ingredients into a small container and mix thoroughly. For the salt and pepper, I used 2 pinches of each, though I recommend only a single pinch of salt if some of your other ingredients are higher in sodium (if you generously salted your chicken, or used a more salty bacon). The recipe only makes a small amount of vinaigrette, so you may want to double it if you’re the type that really enjoys dressings.
- Once the eggs have had a chance to cool, slice or dice them as you see fit.
- When the chicken is out and has had a bit of a chance to rest, cut into strips or cube, per your preference.
- At this point, all your ingredients should be ready to go. As seems to be tradition with Cobb salads, assemble your masterpiece by first laying down your bed of lettuce, and then lay out each of the ingredients in a single strip. Serve with the vinaigrette in an easy-to-pour container on the side.
Serves 3-4 as a stand-alone meal