Creamy pesto dressing updates classic Cobb

Given my newfound obsession with green goddess dressing, I was disappointed when recent foraging through a friend’s expansive garden failed to yield the indispensable tarragon.

Chives, parsley and mint he had aplenty, not to mention basil, the flavor that — for so many of us — epitomizes summer. When I blended a bouquet of fresh basil with Dijon mustard, apple-cider vinegar, garlic and olive oil, he commented that he could just as happily drink the vinaigrette as drizzle it on salad.

It’s easy enough, of course, to dollop homemade or store-bought pesto into mayonnaise or yogurt for a quick alternative to the typical salad dressing. But here’s a purposeful salad concept, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that riffs slightly on the classic Cobb.

Tribune News Service photo

Cobb Salad With Creamy Pesto Dressing

6 cups slivered romaine lettuce (or a combo of romaine and iceberg)

8 slices crisp bacon, cooked and roughly crumbled

3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut into large dice

2 medium-size tomatoes, seeded and cut into large dice

1 1/2 cups cubed, cooked chicken

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed

1/2 cup diced red onion

Optional additions: chickpeas, English peas, diced sweet peppers, cook’s choice

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Creamy Pesto Dressing (recipe follows)

Scatter the lettuce over a large serving platter. Over the greens, make neat rows of the crumbled bacon, eggs, tomatoes, chicken, avocado, onion and blue cheese. Season with the salt and pepper. Drizzle some of the Creamy Pesto Dressing over salad, or serve it on the side.

CREAMY PESTO DRESSING: In a blender jar, blend ½ cup mayonnaise (preferably Best Foods or Hellman’s), ¼ cup buttermilk, 1 cup fresh basil leaves (or half basil, half mint), 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese and 1 peeled and finely minced garlic clove. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer to a plastic container. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Dressing will keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Makes about 1 cup.

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