Thursday, June 29, 2017

Cobb Salad Bites with Avocado Vinaigrette

Cobb salad is perhaps my favorite salad. It was invented at the Hollywood Brown Derby, and is comprised of many delicious ingredients including avocado, bacon, blue cheese, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and grilled chicken. I'm not much of a salad person in general, but I will never turn away a Cobb salad because to me it's so much more than just salad! It really is a meal.

Cobb salad can easily be served as a satisfying entree, but why not serve it as a fun appetizer in the form of small Cobb salad bites served in bacon cups? As an American classic, serving it this way would be ideal for a Fourth of July gathering among friends and family.

It is a bit fussy to assemble the individual bites, but I assure you the effort is worth it as the presentation is impressive for guests, and the bites themselves are absolutely delicious. This recipe replaces the lettuce with shredded Brussels sprouts, to maintain a crisper texture once the salad is dressed.

I will, however, say that the bacon cups themselves are quite small (perfectly bite-size), and the quantity of Cobb salad is much greater than what I could comfortably divide up between my 24 bacon cups. I would encourage those who make this recipe to either double the number of bacon cups, or perhaps halve the amount of salad. My excess salad was quite delicious on its own, and I happily snacked on it.

Cobb Salad Bites with Avocado Vinaigrette
Makes 24 pieces / 6 to 8 servings (I yielded about twice as much salad than I could comfortably divide up between the 24 bacon cups)
(From Share)

Bacon Cups:
Vegetable oil cooking spray, for the pans
6 slices thick-cut bacon, each cut crosswise into quarters to make 24 pieces

Avocado Vinaigrette:
1/2 ripe Hass avocado, pitted, peeled, and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
About 2 tablespoons water, as needed
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Cobb Salad:
1/2 ripe Hass avocado, peeled, pitted, and finely diced (1/4-inch)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
10 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
3 tablespoons finely crumbled blue cheese (preferably Maytag)
2 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped

To make bacon cups: Position racks in top third and center of oven and preheat oven to 375°. Turn 2 (12-cup) mini-muffin pans upside down and lightly spray with oil.

Center a piece over each cup. Place each muffin pan on an 18" x 13" baking sheet to catch rendered fat. Bake until bacon cups are crisp and browned, about 20 minutes. Let the cups cool briefly on the pans. Using kitchen tongs or a small sharp knife, carefully lift cups from pans and transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to cool. (The bacon cups can be refrigerated, sealed in an airtight container, for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

To make vinaigrette: Puree chopped avocado, lemon juice, and mustard in a blender (or a food processor). Mix vegetable oil and olive oil together. With machine running, gradually pour in oils. Add enough water to thin the vinaigrette to the consistency of heavy cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Makes about 1 cup. The vinaigrette can be tightly covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day.)

To make salad: In a large bowl, toss diced avocado with lemon juice. Shred Brussels sprouts in a food processor or with a large knife and add to avocado, along with tomatoes, onion, blue cheese, and eggs. Add 1/2 cup of vinaigrette, or more to taste, and toss gently. (Reserve remaining vinaigrette for another use.)

To serve, arrange bacon cups on a large platter. Divide salad, heaping in tall mounds, into bacon cups. Serve immediately.


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