Growing up in Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to enjoy just about every version of the famous Brown Derby Cobb salad that was offered.
You can still find the original Cobb salad, named after Bob Cobb, the owner of the Brown Derby, at any number of California restaurants. In fact, this salad has become a national favorite in restaurants across the country.
Chopped iceberg lettuce is the basic ingredient, along with blue cheese, cooked chicken, crumbled bacon, diced avocado and tomato garnishes. Sometimes, it comes mixed, and other times, it is presented with a pretty design of all of the ingredients on top. Chefs love to create their own signature versions of this classic, and so can you. Some other flavor additions or substitutions you might consider include sweet red or orange bell peppers, cucumbers, provolone, feta cheese or even olives.
Another favorite of mine is to chop up chilled, grilled vegetables and top with some goat cheese.
This reinterpreted recipe is a family favorite when it's just too hot to cook. For a more substantial main-course salad, add cooked chicken or seafood.
Summer chopped salad with basil vinaigrette
Makes 4 to 6 servings
For the dressing:
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup packed, coarsely chopped basil leaves
For the salad:
1/2 pound of fresh mixed salad greens, finely chopped
1 large ripe tomato, coarsely chopped
1 jar (14.5 ounces) hearts of palm, rinsed and sliced
1/4 European cucumber, finely chopped
1 fresh ear of white or sweet yellow corn, husked and kernels cut off (see note)
1/4 cup shelled and chopped pistachio nuts, toasted (see note)
1 avocado, peeled and sliced, for garnish
To prepare the dressing: In a food processor, combine the shallot, vinegar, lemon juice and mustard, and process to combine. Slowly add the oil, whisking to incorporate. Add the salt, pepper and basil, and pulse until well-blended. Taste for seasoning.
To prepare the salad: Combine all the salad ingredients into a large salad bowl. Add the dressing and toss until all the vegetables are well-coated. Transfer to serving plates and garnish with avocado slices. Sprinkle freshly ground pepper on the salad if desired, and serve.
Note: To remove the corn kernels from the cob, break the husked corncob in two. Hold each half vertically, resting it on the blunt end for stability, and slide a chef's knife down the sides, releasing the corn kernels.
To toast the pistachios, place them on a baking sheet in 350-degree oven and toast for 3 to 5 minutes. Cool.
Diane Rossen Worthington is a cookbook author and a James Beard award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.