Salad for Dinner…a Summertime Winner

Salad for dinner. It just feels right on a hot summer evening.  I like to make a salad bar, where people can put what they want, and how much they want of each item.  We started making this “Cobb Salad” a few years ago with our small group from church.  We were looking for a semi-healthy meal, but one that was simple, hearty, and kid-friendly all at the same time.  This was our solution.  We like that if we serve rolls or some kind of good bread with it, then even people who don’t want to have a salad for dinner, can enjoy it (grilled chicken, some boiled eggs, tomato and cucumber slices and a hunk of bread).  And for those of us who love a great big dinner salad, we can pile it all on and feast on the beautiful bounty!
I have to say that there is something about this salad.  It is so good.  When our friend Blair had her “last supper” with our group before moving to Knoxville, she requested the Cobb Salad menu as her favorite small group meal.

Our friend Ashley (who I mentioned a couple of posts ago) when she was visiting from South Africa sent this Instagram the night after having Cobb Salad at our house for dinner.

Lay it all out as a buffet and let people build their own salad.
like this…
and this.
Lettuce (typically Romaine and Spinach mixed together)

Grilled Chicken Tenderloins– one of our favorite marinades is a twist on Ina Garten’s Lemon Marinade, but we lessen the oil and substitute orange juice for the lemon juice to make it less tart.

Marinade:
3/4 cup good orange juice
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried thyme or 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme (I omit sometimes
for kids)
3 pounds boneless chicken tenderloins
Whisk together the juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme.  Pour over chicken in a nonreactive bowl.  Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, (or overnight).  Heat grill and cook over medium heat until cooked through.
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
          And/or Feta (as an optional cheese)
Hard Boiled Eggsthis is a key ingredient! (I follow Martha Stewart’s instructions on boiling eggs: Place eggs in a single layer in a pan of cold water (water covering the eggs).  Set on the stove top.  Turn on high heat.  Let it come to a boil.  Close lid and REMOVE from burner.  Set your timer for 12 minutes.  Let stand.  Then rinse under cold water and crack eggs with cold water running over.
Bacon crumbles – a little goes a long way
Croutons– I make mine oftentimes out of stale crusty bread…super easy and yummy! Tear or cut bread into pieces. Toss bread in olive oil – I drizzle a little over the bread or use olive oil cooking spray, as it coats more evenly.
Place in a 400˚ oven for 10 minutes or until golden.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with kosher salt (and garlic salt, etc. if you prefer)
Avocado Slices

Diced tomatoes

Sliced Cucumbers

Dressing of your choice- one night at group, one of the guys said, “I think I went wrong with my dressing choice last time.  What do you all recommend for Cobb Salad?” (He had used an Asian Sesame dressing last time). The dressing choice is crucial.  You want something that brings the flavors of the ingredients together.  I love poppy seed dressing on it.  Some people prefer honey mustard, or even a buttermilk ranch, but Italian is often our standard.  As far as bought varieties, Dave and I love the Olive Garden Italian you can get at Sam’s.  Or we like THIS homemade vinaigrette. And you can’t go wrong with THIS Greek dressing!

 

This is a great dinner menu if:
*you are hot and want a “cold” but filling dinner, OR
*you need a prep-ahead meal (because most of it can be made ahead of time), OR
*you are having a gathering and people are bringing items (as it’s an easy-to-delegate yet quick-to- throw-together meal), OR
*you have a grilling partner and then one of you can grill while the other preps the other ingredients, OR
*you have people with varying food needs  (healthy, or low carb, or dairy free or vegetarian) since everyone stacks their own salad, they can make it as they want/need.

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