Cobb Salad with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

cobb salad

Tonight we said goodbye to Jordan, who's leaving for design school in NYC.  It's a really long story--she's going suddenly, it's right and perfect, and **ing sad for all of us that are so well-loved by her.

I hate goodbye parties, but I'd hate not having one even more.  Sue set up one long table in her backyard so we could all sit together--every meal would be like this if Jordan had her way.  We didn't have teary toasts or drawn-out, gooey affirmations (though I love that stuff).  Just ate and knew every single person was thinking, "What are we going to do without her?"

I always think of what Emily says, though, that the tide comes in and goes out with friends.  The definition of something good isn't that it lasts forever.  That's always a hard one for me.  Tonight, in Sue's garden, with the kids under the table and Jordan's laughter ringing out, I wanted it to last forever.  But it shouldn't, it can't, and the tide will come in again.

We've had an exhausting, full weekend of friends and food.  It feels like the end of summer and the beginning of other things, though I'm not quite sure what they are.  I'm staying put in my little house, making 3 meals a day like I always do.  Jordan is completely adrift in comparison.  I am in awe of the risks she's taking--the way she's letting the tide go out on the life she's known, trusting what she needs will make it to shore somehow. Traveling mercies, dearest friend.

Oh--and here's the salad I brought.  Plain old Cobb Salad, which is one of my favorite things in the world.  I haven't made it in a long time because it requires a lot of prep--grill the chicken, cook the bacon, boil the eggs, make the dressing.  Once it's all composed, sitting there in bright rows, it's worth the work, though.  It looked like a cheery flag waving from a ship deck--the perfect Bon Voyage offering.

table of plenty

Cobb Salad with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette
Serves 6 as a main dish.  Because I am me, I had a head of roasted garlic in the fridge.  You can just use fresh minced garlic and more olive oil/lemon juice in your dressing.  Any simple vinaigrette will do.  I've seen Cobb Salad offered with things like blue cheese dressing. That wrecks it, in my opinion.  You don't want to cover up the colors and flavors with something gloppy.  What's pictured here is one big one, but if we're eating it at home, I compose separate salads on plates.  And I can't write about Cobb Salad without mentioning Mary, who loves it even more than me.  Mary, I hope the tide never goes out with you.  You are not allowed to move.  I'd be shipwrecked.

1 large head romaine lettuce, washed, spun, and torn
1/2 head green leaf lettuce, washed, spun, and torn
handful fresh basil leaves (optional)
handful fresh mint leaves (optional)
1 large or two small avocados, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced, or pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 c. crumbled blue cheese
4 hard boiled eggs, diced
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (I grilled some chicken breasts and shredded them)
1 lb. cooked bacon, roughly chopped
4 large slices artisan bread, fried in olive oil then diced

Arrange greens, basil and mint in large bowl or on six plates.  Arrange all other ingredients in rows atop lettuce.  Drizzle dressing over everything.

For dressing:
1 head roasted garlic (Cut off feathery end of garlic bulb.  Put in a heatproof dish, cut side up.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt. Cover tightly with foil and roast until cloves are totally soft, about 45 minutes.  Cool and squeeze cloves out.)
1 Tb. dijon mustard
2 Tb. fresh thyme or lemon thyme
1/4 c. chopped fresh celery leaves
juice of one lemon
1/2 c. olive oil
salt and pepper

Puree roasted garlic, thyme, celery leaves, and lemon juice in food processor.  Add olive oil in a stream and salt and pepper to taste.