Cobb Salad with Balsamic Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Cobb Salad with Balsamic Honey Mustard Vinaigrette | Food & Nutrition | Stone Soup
Photo by Anne Danahy, MS, RDN

Do you still have someone at home who thinks that salads are totally inappropriate for dinner because they’re “rabbit food?” Chances are, they haven’t sunk their teeth into a Cobb Salad. It’s a classic American “this and that” salad that’s packed with protein from chicken, hard-boiled eggs, bacon and blue cheese.

I often see it made with iceberg lettuce, fried chicken strips, LOTS of bacon and a creamy dressing, which can very quickly turn a healthy meal into a calorie bomb. We’re not going there, my friends!

My version of a Cobb Salad is just a little bit lighter and more colorful than the traditional one. I love to do this salad with each section of ingredients all laid out on a huge platter. That way, each person can add the ingredients they like, and skip those they don’t. Not a fan of blue cheese? Skip right by. Want extra avocado? There’s enough! I served this salad for girls’ night recently, and it was a total hit with everyone, no matter what diet they follow, or what their taste buds prefer. It’s really that versatile.

Here’s How to Make Traditional Cobb Salad Healthier

  • I subbed out the traditional tomatoes for strawberries because I found the biggest, sweetest and most delicious strawberries at the store the other day. I just love the sweet-salty combo of fruit and salad.
  • I also cut way back on the bacon (it’s best to limit processed meats). I used just a little bit of uncured, nitrate- and sugar-free bacon — because what’s a Cobb salad without a little bacon?
  • There’s really no need to go for iceberg lettuce when colorful leafy greens are everywhere. Remember the rule: the brighter the color, the more good stuff in the food.
  • No fried chicken here! Instead, I used my favorite lemon-herb marinade and grilled up my chicken.
  • I also made a simple 4-ingredient balsamic honey-mustard dressing. It’s light, sweet and tangy all at the same time.
  • A sprinkle of roasted pumpkin seeds adds some crunch and healthy fat.

As soon as the weather starts to warm up, I’m so over anything cooked in the oven. I’m also big on no-cook nights, and this Cobb Salad checks both boxes. It’s sure to become one of your summer dinner staples. The recipe sizes up or down so easily. If you’ll be eating it for lunch the next day, or dinner the next night, make sure you only add the dressing to what you’ll be eating tonight, or you’ll get soggy greens.

Cobb Salad with Balsamic Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Serves 4

Ingredients

Lemon-Herb Chicken

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Honey Mustard Balsamic Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper or to taste

Salad

  • 4 cups mixed baby greens (packed)
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
  • 6 large strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 2 ounces good-quality blue cheese
  • 2 strips nitrate-free bacon, cooked until crisp crumbled
  • 1 medium avocado pitted and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds

Instructions

To prepare the Lemon-Herb Chicken:

  1. Place the chicken in a bowl or shallow container.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a measuring cup. Mix well, and pour over the chicken breasts. Turn to coat well. Cover the chicken and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.
  3. Heat the grill, and oil the grill grate. Place the chicken on the grill and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes on each side until the chicken is cooked through and registers 165°F on a meat thermometer.
  4. Set the chicken aside to cool. Slice into strips when cool.

To prepare the Honey Mustard Balsamic Dressing:

  1. Combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, mustard, honey, salt and pepper in a jar. Shake well to combine. Set aside until ready to use.

To prepare the salad:

  1. Combine salad greens, sliced eggs, strawberries, cheese, crumbled bacon and avocado slices. Add the sliced chicken.
  2. Pour the dressing over the salad and sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds.
  3. Portion the salad onto two plates and serve immediately.
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Anne Danahy
Anne Danahy, MS, RDN, is a wellness dietitian and nutrition communications consultant who specializes in women's health and healthy aging. She blogs at Craving Something Healthy. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.