An unbeatable combination of crisp salad greens, chicken breast, hard-boiled egg, tomatoes, avocado, bacon, and blue cheese drizzled with a red wine vinaigrette. Sometimes I add asparagus spears for more vegetable variety. The classic Cobb Salad was created in the 1930’s at the famed Hollywood restaurant, The Brown Derby. Recently I served a Cobb Salad to current Hollywood royalty, producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.
Ben Hur Movie Lunch
Burnett and Downey were at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, to preview their epic summer blockbuster movie, Ben Hur. Serving them a private lunch before the event was an honor. They are the most down to earth, kindest people and faith-filled Christians. A rarity in Hollywood.
With powerful themes of forgiveness and love, betrayal and redemption, sweeping photography and nail-gripping action, you’ve got to go see Ben Hur. You will gasp when you see the famous chariot race scene. Hearing about how they filmed it with 800 Go-Pro cameras was amazing. After seeing the chariot race scene, Downey was quick to tell the audience that no horses were harmed in filming. Watch the trailer here to whet your appetite. The movie releases this week, August 19, so get your tickets now.
So back to the food. What to serve? You can’t go wrong with a classic like a Cobb Salad.
The Classic Cobb Salad
There are a lot of components, but you can make all of them ahead of time and assemble when ready to eat. Prepare it on Sunday and enjoy it during the week for a main course dinner or lunch, or entertaining.
Cobb Salad Components
There are a bunch of little prep steps to get all of the pieces ready for a Cobb Salad, but don’t fret. None of them are hard and they can all be done ahead of time.
- Romaine hearts – Chop leaves crosswise into thin ribbons
- Chicken breast – Poach, cool and chop. Directions here or use leftover roast chicken or rotisserie chicken
- Cherry tomatoes – Slice in half
- Avocado – Slice in half, remove seed, cut into quarters and dice
- Hard boil eggs – Directions here
- Blue cheese – Buy crumbles or crumble a chunk (or skip for dairy-free)
- Bacon crumbles – Bake it in the oven (see below)
Choose Your Chicken
For the chicken, you can use either leftover roast chicken or rotisserie chicken. The best option that only takes a few minutes is to poach boneless skinless chicken breasts in water with a little onion or leeks, garlic, lemon and herbs.
The directions for how to poach chicken are here.
How to Oven Bake Bacon
I prefer organic turkey bacon for my Cobb Salad. The best way to cook it is in the oven. With the oven method, you get better results than in a pan like pork bacon. While your hands are free, work on the other salad elements.
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and put a wire rack on top (like for cooling cookies). Place bacon slices on the wire rack. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn pieces and bake for another 10 minutes or until crisp. Cool, chop and resist eating it all.
Ben Hur Preview Event at Saddleback
Pastor Rick Warren interviewed Burnett and Downey. It was fascinating to hear about their journey and the faith and courage it took to make Ben Hur. We were treated to behind the scenes footage of the actual movie, which had never been allowed before.
This new movie is not so much a remake of the Oscar-winning 1959 classic, but a new interpretation of the 1880 novel by Lew Wallace, on which both movies are based. It’s going to be a blockbuster success and I can’t wait to see the whole thing.
Classic Cobb Salad
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons vinegar red wine or sherry
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- A pinch of sea salt
- A pinch of ground black pepper
- 1/2 pound package uncured turkey bacon
- 4 hearts of Romaine
- 1 pound cooked chicken for how to poach chicken read here, about 3 cups cubed
- 4 hardboiled eggs
- 12-16 cherry tomatoes
- 1 avocado quartered and chopped
- 4 ounces of blue cheese crumbles
- In a small bowl whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together until creamy.
- Pre-heat an oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking half sheet pan with foil (for easy cleanup). Top with a wire cooling rack. Lay bacon slices on the wire rack and bake for 20 minutes. Turn slices over and bake approximately another 10 minutes or until back is crisp. Cool and chop.
- While bacon is baking, work on the other salad components. After washing, slice Romaine head crosswise into thin ribbons. Slice the eggs and halve the tomatoes. If serving right away, slice and chop the avocado and keep refrigerated until assembly time.
- To serve the Cobb salad, place a pile of Romaine on each of 4 plates, the arrange all of the other ingredients on top in sections or rows. You can even toss is all together. Serve dressing on the side.