A Salad That's Not as Healthy as You Might Think—and How We Lightened it Up

Salad on a menu sounds pretty healthy, but the numbers can be shocking. For example, a Chicken Cobb Salad from Fresh City delivers more than 700 calories and a staggeringly high 51 grams of fat. (Nice "light" lunch, right?) To lighten up our version of cobb salad, we kept the main players -- tender chicken, hard‐cooked eggs, avocado, tomatoes, bacon, and blue cheese -- but made a few small changes.

BEFORE: 738 calories, 51g fat, 17g sat fat
AFTER: 320 calories, 19g fat, 4.5g sat fat

Swapping turkey bacon for regular bacon delivered the same salty, smoky flavors and crunch, and the salad included so many other elements that tasters didn't even notice. Relying on potent Roquefort or Stilton allowed us to cut back on the amount of cheese, while poaching proved a low‐fat way to prepare the chicken. Tossing the chicken, tomatoes, and greens with a bit of our boldly flavored vinaigrette ensured that each one was well‐seasoned. When it came to the avocado, tasters liked the richness it provided, but it increases the overall fat substantially (though it is largely monounsaturated fat), so we leave the choice up to you.

Classic Cobb Salad, by America's Test Kitchen

Serves 4

Watercress is traditional in cobb salad, but an equal amount of arugula, chicory, or curly endive can be substituted.

3 tablespoons extra‐virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallot
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 slices turkey bacon
9 ounces poached chicken breast (see below), cut into 1/2‐inch cubes
8 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 romaine lettuce hearts (12 ounces), cut into 1‐inch pieces
4 ounces (4 cups) watercress
2 large hard‐cooked eggs, chopped
1 ounce strong blue cheese, such as roquefort or Stilton, crumbled (1/4 cup)
1 avocado, halved, pitted, and cut into 1/4‐inch cubes (optional)

1. FOR THE DRESSING: Whisk all ingredients together in bowl.

2. FOR THE SALAD: Cook bacon in 12‐inch nonstick skillet over medium‐high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes; transfer to paper towel-lined plate, let cool slightly, then crumble.

3. Rewhisk dressing to combine. Toss cubed chicken with 2 tablespoons dressing in bowl. In separate bowl, toss tomatoes with 1 tablespoon dressing. In another bowl, toss romaine and watercress with remaining dressing. Arrange greens on four individual plates or large platter and top with rows of chicken, tomatoes, and eggs. Garnish with cooked bacon, blue cheese, and avocado, if using. Serve.

Easy Poached Chicken: Start by trimming boneless, skinless chicken breasts of all visible fat. Combine the chicken, 1 1/2 cups water, 2 peeled and smashed garlic cloves, 2 bay leaves, and 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce in a 12-inch skillet and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, 10 to 15 minutes. When the water is simmering, flip the chicken over, cover, and continue to cook until the chicken registers 160 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes longer. transfer to a carving board, let rest for 5 minutes, then cut or shred into pieces as desired. 12 ounces (uncooked weight) of chicken breasts will produce 9 ounces (cooked weight) of poached chicken.

Per Serving (without avocado): Cal 320, Fat 19g, Sat Fat 4.5g, Chol 160mg, Carb 8g, Protein 27g, Fiber 2g, Sodium 650mg

Per Serving (with avocado): Cal 400, Fat 27g, Sat Fat 6g, Chol 160mg, Carb 13g, Protein 28g, Fiber 5g, Sodium 650mg

This recipe appears in our brand-new cookbook, Comfort Food Makeovers. We set the bar high and simply put flavor first when lightening up favorite dishes.

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