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The New and Improved Cobb Salad

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

In the Beginning

Gather around, and I’ll tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a man named Bob. Bob Cobb. Bob Cobb was the owner of a restaurant, a very famous restaurant in Hollywood. One night, after the restaurant had closed, Bob was hungry—very hungry—so he started to look through the refrigerator for something to eat.

(I’ll bet his refrigerator held much more promise than mine ever has, but I digress.)

Bob found a head of lettuce, a bit of romaine, tomatoes, avocado, some cold leftover chicken breast, hard-cooked eggs, blue cheese, and even some bacon. And then he began to chop, and chop, and chop some more. There was some salad dressing lurking on the top shelf of the refrigerator, so he used some of that too. Bob ate, and he ate, and he ate. There was so much to eat that he called his friend (Sid Grauman) and offered to share his salad with Sid. Sid ate the salad too. And he loved it.

Sid came back the next day and asked to have the salad again.

The end.

But That Isn't the End of The Story

…and it isn’t a fairy tale. This really happened, in 1937, at the Brown Derby Restaurant. The salad was (of course) the Cobb salad. And in the 80 years since that first refrigerator raid, the Brown Derby has sold over 4 million Cobb salads.

With a few key strokes and 0.025 seconds, I was able to find the original recipe by doing a Google search.

The Original Brown Derby Cobb Salad

Ingredients (makes 4 servings)

  • 1/2 head lettuce, about 4 cups
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 1 small bunch chicory, about 2 1/2 cups
  • 1/2 head romaine, about 2 1/2 cups
  • 2 medium peeled tomatoes
  • 6 strips of crisp bacon
  • 2 breasts of boiled chicken
  • 3 hard cooked eggs
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Roquefort cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1 cup (approximately) Original Cobb Salad Dressing, below


  1. Cut lettuce, half the watercress, chicory, and romaine in fine pieces and arrange in a large salad bowl.
  2. Cut tomatoes, bacon, chicken, eggs, and avocado in small pieces and arrange, along with the crumbled Roquefort cheese, in strips on the greens.
  3. Sprinkle finely cut chives over the Cobb salad and garnish with the remaining watercress.
  4. Just before serving mix the salad with the Cobb salad dressing.

Original Cobb Salad Dressing

Makes 1 1/2 cups (enough for 6 servings)

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry English mustard
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup full-flavored olive oil
  • 3/4 cup salad oil

Blend all ingredients together, except oils. Add olive and salad oils. Mix well. Blend well again before mixing with salad.

And It's a Salad, So It's Healthy, Right?

In a word, no. Here's a nutritional breakdown based on information from

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Read More From Delishably

Nutrition of the Original Cobb Salad



Total Fat

62.5 g

Saturated Fat

13 g

Polyunsaturated Fat

12.5 g

Monosaturated Fat

34 g


261 mg


1,690 mg



Lighten up Already!

We can do better than that. Here's how.

The New and Improved Cobb Salad


Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 10-oz pkg. arugula or spinach leaves
  • 1 cup haricot verts (thin green beans), blanched
  • 1 cup raw button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1 ripe avocado, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese feta
  • Lite salad dressing (see below)
  • Lemon wedges (to squeeze on the shrimp, optional)


  • Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and swirl to coat pan. Sprinkle shrimp with smoked paprika and salt. Add to pan and cook 2 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.
  • Add arugula or spinach leaves to the bowl containing salad dressing. Toss to coat.
  • Divide mixture among 4 salad plates. Top each serving with shrimp, green beans, mushroom slices, tomatoes, avocado, and crumbled cheese.

Lite Salad Dressing


  • 5 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard


Combine lemon juice, oil, and mustard in a bowl; stir with whisk until blended. Set aside.

So How Does Our Lite Version Compare?

Again, the the help of, I calculated the nutritional value of the new-and-improved Cobb salad:

Nutrition of the Lite Cobb Salad


392.5 g


Total Fat

24.2 g


Saturated Fat

5.7 g


Polyunsaturated Fat

2.8 g


Monosaturated Fat

13.7 g



189 g



507.5 mg



966 mg


What Makes This Recipe Work?

  • We replaced the traditional romaine lettuce with a healthier, more nutrient-rich salad green.
  • We omitted the bacon and chicken, choosing instead shrimp as the protein.
  • the smoky bacon flavor is replaced by smoked paprika.
  • We deleted the egg and used instead raw mushrooms and blanched green beans (they contain no fat grams and are both very low in calories).
  • We replaced the fat-laden Roquefort with an equally assertive goat milk feta cheese.
  • Unlike the original, our salad is not swimming in salad dressing. A light dressing of the greens is all that is needed.

© 2011 Linda Lum

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