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Once little known outside Hollywood, where it was one of the stars on the menu of the Brown Derby restaurant, Cobb salad is now served everywhere as a deceptively light lunch. Heaped with blue cheese, bacon, chicken and avocado, it’s a hearty meal that guarantees you won’t be hungry until suppertime.

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 6 oz. each)
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 4 thick slices applewood-smoked bacon, chopped
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 romaine lettuce hearts, chopped
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or other mild blue cheese

Directions:

To hard-boil the eggs, place them in a saucepan just large enough to hold them. Add cold water to cover by 1 inch and bring just to a boil over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and cover. Let stand for 15 minutes. Drain the eggs, then transfer to a bowl of ice water and let cool. Peel the eggs and cut into quarters.

To make the vinaigrette, in a blender, combine the vinegar, mustard and garlic. With the blender running, slowly add the 3⁄4 cup oil through the vent in the lid, processing until a thick dressing forms. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a serving bowl.

Using a meat pounder, pound the chicken breasts until they are a uniform 1⁄2 inch thick. Season them with salt and pepper. Mix together the parsley and thyme, and sprinkle evenly over both sides of the breasts, pressing the herbs to help them adhere. In a large nonstick frying pan, heat the remaining 1 Tbs. oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until the undersides are browned, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook until the second sides are browned and the breasts are opaque throughout, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

Add the bacon to the frying pan and fry, stirring occasionally, until crisp and browned, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.

When ready to serve, slice the chicken breasts across the grain into strips. Halve, pit, peel and cube the avocado. Divide the lettuce evenly among 4 individual plates, or heap it onto a platter. Arrange the chicken, bacon, tomatoes, avocado, eggs and Gorgonzola on the lettuce. Drizzle with some of the dressing and serve, passing the remaining dressing on the side. Serves 4.

Variation: You can use sliced roast beef in place of the chicken. For delicious on-the-go wraps, arrange the salad ingredients on flour tortillas or sheets of lavash, dress them lightly with the vinaigrette, and then roll them up.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2009).