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As a kid, I loved salad. No, not the kind packed with fresh vegetables and lightly dressed with a perky vinaigrette. My ideal salad was a little bit of lettuce topped with cheese, some kind of meat and loads of croutons, all held together by a creamy dressing. Healthy? Not really. Delicious? Absolutely.

You used to see salads like this on many restaurant menus, typically labeled as chef's salad. But if your parents took you to a fancy restaurant, it might have been called a Cobb salad. And once I got a taste of the Cobb, I immediately put the chef's salad in my rearview mirror.

While the chef's salad is a mishmash of deli meats, cheeses and iceberg lettuce, the Cobb salad is composed, with ingredients that are sliced, chopped or grated and arranged in stripes over a bed of mixed greens. The lettuce was usually chopped romaine, but endive and watercress made their way onto the plate, too. Regardless of the types of lettuce, they all got topped with lines of crispy bacon, crumbled Roquefort cheese, shredded cheddar, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, chopped chicken or turkey and tomato.

Now that summer has definitely arrived, salads are back in the dinner lineup, and taking center stage. Since it has been decades since I've made a Cobb salad, it seems like a no-brainer to revisit this old favorite.

The Cobb salad was invented in Los Angeles in the 1930s. Legend has it that Robert Cobb, owner of celebrity Hollywood hangout the Brown Derby, was looking for a midnight snack one night in 1937 and composed this salad out of bits and pieces from the walk-in refrigerator.

I don't know if the story is true, but it captures what I love about this hearty salad. Yes, you can certainly stick to the traditional ingredients, or you can cut up whatever you have in the fridge, line it up on top of a bed of lettuce and enjoy. Lining up the ingredients is non-negotiable. It makes the salad seem special and, I would argue, taste better.

I still love a creamy dressing, so I substitute the usual vinaigrette with an avocado green goddess, packed with fresh herbs, lemon juice and avocado, whirred together in a blender until your kitchen is fragrant with the aroma of basil, parsley, dill — or whatever else you have on hand.


Cobb Salad with Avocado Green Goddess Dressing

Serves 6.

Hearty and satisfying, this composed salad is the perfect choice for a no-cook meal on a warm summer day. From Meredith Deeds.

For the dressing:

• 3 c. tender herbs (such as parsley, cilantro, dill, basil, mint, tarragon, and/or chives)

• 1 avocado, peeled and pitted

• 1/2 c. mayonnaise

• 1/2 c. sour cream

• 2 tbsp. water

• 1 tsp. grated lemon zest

• 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

• 1 tbsp. drained capers

• 1 clove garlic

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

• 1 large head romaine lettuce, washed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces (about 8 c.)

• 3 c. chopped cooked chicken

• 1 c. cherry tomatoes. sliced

• 1 c. crumbled blue cheese or cubed cheddar

• 6 strips cooked bacon, crumbled

• 1 avocado, chopped

• 4 hard-boiled eggs, quartered

Directions

Combine herbs, avocado, mayonnaise, sour cream, water, lemon zest and juice, capers, garlic,1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a blender. Pulse on high until bright green, but still speckled with small pieces of herbs. Taste the dressing and season with more salt and pepper and/or thin with more water, if necessary. Keep in mind that the dressing should be thick, but pourable.

Toss romaine with 5 tablespoons of the dressing in large bowl until coated; arrange on a very large, flat serving platter. Arrange the chicken, cherry tomatoes, cheese, bacon, avocado and eggs in rows on top of the lettuce. Serve with remaining dressing on the side.

Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at meredithdeeds@gmail.com. Follow her on Instagram ­at @meredithdeeds.