Think salad is just iceberg lettuce doused with dressing and bacon bits? Think again. Here are five delicious salads you probably have heard of but may not exactly have known what they were or how to make them. Spruce up your dining table using these 5 famous dishes.
#1 – Caesar Salad
The Caesar salad is generally attributed to Italian immigrant Caesar Cardini who operated restaurants in San Diego and Tijuana nearly a hundred years ago. Legend has it that a Fourth of July rush in 1924 depleted the kitchen’s supplies and Cardini made do with what he had. Thus was born the Caesar salad.
There are limitless common variations to Caesar salad, including varying the leaf, adding meat such as grilled chicken or bacon, or omitting ingredients such as anchovies and eggs. The original recipe calls for raw or coddled eggs but few people want to cook with raw eggs. Poached egg yolk works fine or you can substitute mayonnaise for the oil and egg yolks since these are the ingredients in it anyway. The signature ingredients are croutons and the dressing. Here’s a basic recipe.
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled, divided
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 5 anchovy fillets, minced
- 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste
- salt to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 cups day-old bread, cubed
- 1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
- Mince 3 cloves of garlic, and combine in a small bowl with mayonnaise, anchovies, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cut the remaining 3 cloves of garlic into quarters, and add to hot oil. Cook and stir until brown, and then remove garlic from pan. Add bread cubes to the hot oil. Cook, turning frequently, until lightly browned. Remove bread cubes from oil, and season with salt and pepper.
- Place lettuce in a large bowl. Toss with dressing, remaining Parmesan cheese, and seasoned bread cubes.
#2 – Caprese Salad
Caprese salad comes from the Italian insalata caprese, which literally translates as “salad of Capri”, though it’s anyone’s guess as to whether the salad actually originated there. Caprese salad is a simple salad made of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and sweet basil, seasoned with salt and olive oil. It is usually arranged on a plate in restaurant practice.
- 1 large tomato, sliced into 8 slices
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced into 8 slices
- 5-6 basil leaves, sliced
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt and fresh pepper
- Optional: 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- Place sliced mozzarella on a large plate or platter.
- Top with tomato, olive oil, balsamic, basil, salt and pepper.
#3 – Chef’s Salad
Chef’s salad is an American salad consisting of hard-boiled eggs; one or more varieties of meat, such as ham, turkey, chicken, or roast beef; tomatoes; cucumbers; and cheese; all placed upon a bed of tossed lettuce or other leaf vegetables. Several early recipes also include anchovies. A variety of dressings may be used with this salad. Here’s a standard recipe.
- 1 large head Romaine lettuce, chopped (about 8 cups)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 2 large carrots, sliced
- 1 cucumber, quartered and chopped
- 4 large eggs, hard boiled, peeled and quartered
- 6 ounces Cheddar, cubed
- 8 ounces ham, cut into strips
- 8 ounces turkey, cut into strips
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Divide lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, hard-boiled eggs, cheeses and ham among 4 large salad bowls.
- In a bowl, whisk vinegar, honey, Dijon, salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, drizzle in oil until mixture is combined.
- Serve salads, passing dressing on the side.
#4 – Cobb Salad
The Cobb salad is named after Robert Cobb, cousin of baseball star Ty Cobb. Either Robert Cobb, the owner of the Hollywood Brown Derby, or his chef Paul Posti invented the Cobb salad in the 1930s. The legend is that Cobb had not eaten until near midnight, and so he mixed together leftovers he found in the kitchen, along with some bacon cooked by the line cook, and tossed it with their French dressing.
Cobb salads are made with iceberg or romaine lettuce. The lettuce is topped with grilled chicken, avocado, tomatoes, bacon, hard-boiled eggs and Roquefort or blue cheese. Vinaigrette dressings typically top Cobb salads. Here’s a great Cobb salad recipe.
- 1/3 c. red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 2/3 c. olive oil
- kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 head romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped
- 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
- 12 oz. cooked chicken, diced
- 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 avocado, thinly sliced
- 4 oz. crumbled blue cheese
- 5 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tbsp. Chopped chives
- In a jar, shake together vinegar, mustard, and oil and season with salt and pepper.
- On a large platter, spread out lettuce, then add rows of hard-boiled egg, chicken, bacon, avocado, blue cheese, and cherry tomatoes.
- Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with dressing, and garnish with chives.
#5 – Garden Salad
Garden salads are commonly found in restaurants and on the dinner table in many homes. This basic salad is primarily made up of lettuce, such as iceberg or romaine. A spring mix can be used as well. Garden salads also have a variety of vegetables mixed in, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and onions, making them incredibly healthy and nutritious. Shredded cheese is another common topping for garden salads. Dressings vary.
This is a great salad for vegetarians and by omitting the cheese, vegans as well. As its name suggests, garden vegetables are the key to making this salad shine and you can mix and match most anything in terms of garden ingredients. Here’s a classic recipe.
1⁄2 head lettuce (or a combo of iceberg, romaine, butter, spring greens etc)
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1⁄2 cucumber, peeled as needed and sliced 1/4-inch thick
4 green onions, chopped
1⁄2 avocado, diced
2 radishes, sliced (optional)
1 celery rib, sliced (optional)
- 4 mixed mushrooms, sliced (optional)
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced (optional)
seasoning salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
garlic powder, to taste
Parmesan cheese, grated, to taste
olive oil, to taste
vinegar, to taste
- Tear lettuce into bite sized pieces and wash and dry thoroughly. Place in large salad bowl (wider than it is deep). Top with prepared vegetables.
- Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cheese. Go lightly until you learn how much is “to taste” for you.
- Pour oil over salad, then vinegar. It is important that the oil be first. Quantity requires a bit of practice – go light on the vinegar at first. You can add more if needed. Aim to coat the top layer of vegetables. Toss until well mixed. Taste – add vinegar or oil if needed, and toss again. Do not add dry ingredients (see below). Serve immediately.
- Note: Your first couple salads may not be perfect. If you find that you didn’t add enough salt or pepper, let diners add more as served – you can’t get it well dispersed if you add to the salad bowl after the oil and vinegar have been added If you find that you added too much vinegar, a little salt can counteract – again, add as served.