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Friday, May 2, 2008

Shrimp and Gruyère Cobb Salad Low-Fat Green Goddess Dressing

Cobb Salad: Begging for Reinvention
by Victoria Challancin

In 1937 an overnight salad sensation was born at Hollywood's The Brown Derby restaurant, when the hungry owner, Bob Cobb, threw together an assortment of salad ingredients to satisfy his late-night hunger. According to Arthur Schwartz, NYC's "Food Maven," more than 4 million Cobb salads have been sold at Brown Derby restaurants since that time. It's easy to understand why: the salad is beautiful, full of healthy ingredients, and above all, flexible. While the original recipe calls for chicken, bacon, and blue cheese, this salad begs for reinterpretation. Because it is so perfect for San MIguel's al fresco dining style, I have prepared it a variety of styles: Italian, Thai, Mexican, and French. It appeared in my cooking class for Mexican cooks this week in a rather Californian version using shrimp, pickled quail eggs, and a relatively low-fat Green Goddess dressing.

I recently purchased a jar of pickled quail eggs, mainly because they looked so pretty. Curious to see if they were as tasty as they looked, I included in our salad both the quail eggs and the spicy carrots that were included in the pickled mix.

The dressing is my interpretation of another California classic, Green Goddess Dressing, invented in the 1920's at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, to honor William Archer's popular play The Green Goddess. Like the salad itself, this dressing constantly reinvents itself at my table, though I always include tarragon and anchovies.

Shrimp and Gruyère Cobb Salad with Low-Fat Green Goddess Dressing
(Recipe by Victoria Challancin)
Serves 4 to 6.
Note: There are so many possible additions or subtractions to this salad: chicken, crumbed bacon, salami, hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, blue cheese, radishes, broccoli, asparagus, green beans, sprouts, beets, carrots, purple cabbage, cooked new potatoes—just any salad ingredient you like.

1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons anchovy paste or smashed anchovies
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1-2 garlic cloves, minced

8 cups romaine lettuce, cut into 1-inch thick slices
1 bunch trimmed watercress or escarole
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked shrimp
4 plum tomatoes, diced or cut into 8 wedges
3 green onions, sliced
1 small jícama, peeled and julienned
Pickled quail eggs, cut in half lengthwise or
2 hard-cooked large eggs,
each cut into 4 wedges

2 bell peppers of different colors, diced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced into half-moons or
3 European-style cucumbers, sliced thin
1 avocado, peeled and diced

1 cup Gruyère or Manchego cheese, julienned
Additional chive pieces for garnish, optional

To prepare dressing: Place ingredients for dressing in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Chill.

To prepare salad: Combine lettuce and watercress in a large bowl. Make a bed of lettuce and cress on a rectangular or oblong serving plate. Arrange the individual salad ingredients in lines on serving plate (or on individual plates). Drizzle the dressing across the salad. Garnish with a few pieces of chive.

(See for a brief article by Arthur Schwartz on Cobb Salad with the original recipe).

This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging event, originated by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen, which is hosted this week by Anh from Food Lover's Journey.

1 comment:

Kalyn Denny said...

Sounds great to me. I like your dressing ingredients very much.