Salad as a Meal Challenge: Patricia’s Cobb Salad with Birthday Bacon

by Catherine Down

cobb salad.jpg

After an epic journey through Italy and back to France that can only be described as special, I touched down in Boston this week just in time for my dad’s birthday. Stepped off the plane and I made…salad.

Cobb Salad to be specific, from Patricia Wells’ new cookbook Salad as a Meal. It was easy to throw together after 7 hours on a plane, healthy, made up mostly of pantry staples, and it included bacon. 

Bacon is the smell of celebration in the Down household. Every holiday morning begins with bacon for my family (minus me). Slim Jim, as we call my dad, is usually a very healthy eater so Cobb salad with a celebratory side of bacon seemed like the perfect meal. 


The perfect gift in his opinion were two 12 inch shoe horns made from real horns. It’s unclear to me why anyone would need one massive shoe horn, much less two, but the heart wants what it wants. And clearly, he was thrilled. 

No endangered animals were used in the making of these ridiculous shoehorns.

No endangered animals were used in the making of these ridiculous shoehorns.

Slim Jim might not be slim any longer after eating the nutmeg spice cake with rum buttercream that my sister made (3 sticks of butter in the frosting alone) but don’t blame me- I made salad! 

A few notes on the salad:

  • The dressing was a light lemon dressing that is so creamy that I was shocked at how healthy it is (just low-fat yogurt, lemon juice and salt). 
  • I did find the 4 oz. of Roquefort to be a bit overwhelming however, and I would probably cut down on the amount of cheese next time. 
  • Although the recipe calls for heirloom tomatoes, I used a cup of halved cherry tomatoes instead as they are far more flavorful and easier to find this time of year.  

My Cobb Salad: Iceberg, Tomato, Avocado, Bacon, and Blue Cheese

From Salad as Meal by Patricia Wells (with permission)

Robert H. Cobb, owner of the Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood, is said to have invented this salad in the 1930s as a late-night snack for himself. No wonder it has remained an American classic. With the crunch of the iceberg and onions, the soft richness of the avocado, the saltiness of the bacon, the sweetness of the tomato, and the bite of the blue cheese, this salad has it all! And it is beautiful to boot.


2 1/2 ounces smoked bacon, rind removed, cut into matchsticks (3/4 cup)

1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped (4 cups)

2 ripe heirloom tomatoes, cored, peeled, seeded, and chopped

1 large ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and cubed

4 ounces chilled blue cheese (preferably Roquefort), crumbled (1 cup)

4 small spring onions or scallions, white part only, trimmed, peeled, and cut into thin rounds

Yogurt and Lemon Dressing (See recipe below)

Coarse, freshly ground black pepper

1.In a large, dry skillet, brown the bacon over moderate heat until crisp and golden, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to several layers of paper towels to absorb the fat. Blot the top of the bacon with several layers of paper towels to absorb any additional fat. Set aside.

2. In a large, shallow bowl, combine the bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, cheese, and spring onions. Toss with just enough dressing to lightly and evenly coat the ingredients. Season generously with pepper, and serve.

Yogurt and Lemon Dressing

Makes about 3/4 cup

1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 tsp Lemon Zest Salt or fine sea salt (see recipe below)

1. In a small jar with a lid, combine the yogurt, lemon juice and salt. Cover with th lid and shake to blend. Taste for seasoning. The dressing can be used immediately (Store the dressing in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Shake to blend again before using.) 

Lemon Zest Salt 

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, preferably organic

1 tablespoon fine sea salt 

1. Combine the lemon zest and salt in the spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Transfer to a small jar and close with the lid. (Store sealed in the jar, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. After that, the lemon flavor will begin to fade.)