This familiar salad gets a fresh update with a tangy vinaigrette dressing, grilled chicken, fresh herbs and some Canadian cheese.
I used Allegretto which is a lamb’s milk cheese from the province of Quebec as a substitute for the more common bleu cheeses. Selected as Québec’s Best Sheep Milk Cheese in 2004, Allegretto is from the province’s northerly Abitibi region. The Nordic climate of this region with its warm days and cold nights frees more sugar into the feed, resulting in milk that is typical to the Abitibi region. From this milk, the Quebec cheese makers have created a firm-textured, tangy and slightly fruity, subtle tasting cheese that is becoming as familiar as the Quebec landscape. I am lucky enough to be able to procure this cheese at one of our local artisan shops. Allegretto is milder than many sheep milk cheeses, and broadly appealing. It can be used in sandwiches, salads and pasta dishes, or as one of several cheeses on a cheese board.
The combination of the allegretto in this version of Cobb salad was subtle with a particular flavour unique to Quebec cheeses. Of course if it is not available in your area use the more traditional bleu cheeses that are common for a Cobb salad. To learn more about Quebec cheeses visit this site.
**Cobb Salad with Fresh Herbs**
3/4 cup plus 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sherry vinegar (I used Champagne vinegar because it is what I had available)
2 tsp lemon zest (1 large lemon)
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 T mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (7 - 8 oz each)
2 heads Boston lettuce, trimmed and torn into bite-size pieces, washed and dried
1-1/2 cups lightly packed fresh parsley leaves
1/4 - 3/4 cup lightly packed mint leaves (depending on your preference)
3 large avocados
1-1/2 cups (1 lb) halved grape tomatoes
1 heaping cup (6 oz) crumbled Roquefort cheese (I used allegreto)
2/3 cups toasted pine nuts
12 slices bacon, cooked, and crumbled
1/2 cup chives, chopped
For Vinaigrette: Put all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a glass measuring cup or a jar with a tight- fitting lid and whisk or vigorously shake to combine. You can store the vinaigrette in the refrigerator for up to 5 days; let come to room temperature and shake or whisk before using.
Heat a gas grill to medium high. In a mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Grill until well marked and cooked through, 4 - 6 minutes per side for the breasts. Let cool and cut into small dice if preferred.
Combine the lettuce, parsley, and mint in a large bowl. Toss with just enough of the vinaigrette to coat lightly, 4 - 5 tablespoons. Season with a little salt and pepper and toss again. Divide among 6 large dinner plates, arranging the lettuce in a circle with a small hole in the center.
Peel, pit, and cut the avocados into medium dice and toss them in a medium bowl with 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Combine with avocados, tomatoes, Roquefort (allegreto), pine nuts, and chicken in a mixing bowl. Season with a little salt ands pepper and toss with some of the vinaigrette. (you will have some dressing left over). Mound the mixture in the centre of a serving plate. Sprinkle with the bacon and chives. Serve.