Sometimes, great taste is about combinations, not fancy techniques. When the combinations are memorable, flavors blend but also contrast. They work together and yet remain distinguishable. This Cosi signature salad is an example of great combinations.
My friend Jill introduced me to what she called her “Cosi salad.” I love it because of the combination of dried and fresh fruit, soft lettuce and crunchy nuts, and the savory-sweet contrast of fruit and blue cheese. She named it after the Cosi Signature Salad, which she tasted and loved. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted the Cosi signature salad, but I definitely did a take-off on Jill’s version. So if she copied the Cosi signature salad and I adapted hers, you can decide what that makes mine – I call it delicious.
The recipe below provides specific ingredients and measurements to show how to build the salad. But definitely use creativity and ingredients on hand in making this salad. I believe blue cheese is essential because of the tart “bite” it provides, especially when mixed with the oil and vinegar, but my husband prefers the salad without it. In the fall I use grapes. In summer, I often substitute strawberries.
As a main dish at lunchtime, I need only a slice of good bread to complete my meal. At dinner, a half-portion with a hearty soup is divine.
Cosi Signature Salad (copycat)
Servings – 1 large Cost – $3
- 3 cups of lettuce pieces, baby arugula, baby spinach or a combination
- ½ cup of at least 2 kinds of vegetables diced into pieces about ½ inch each (I typically include cucumber – regular or long, English cucumbers with the seeded center removed and red or yellow peppers for color contrast.)
- ¼ cup chopped tomatoes, halved grape tomatoes, or quartered cherry tomatoes
- ¼ cup halved seedless red grapes (about 5 large grapes)
- 1 tablespoon roasted, unsalted nuts, preferably pistachios or pine nuts (I buy Trader Joe’s already roasted nuts, but you can roast them yourself.)
- 1 tablespoon crumbled blue cheese, preferably Gorgonzola (an Italian type of blue cheese that is especially crumbly and slightly salty)
- 1 tablespoon dried cranberries
- 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Wash, dry and tear (if necessary) the lettuce/arugula/spinach, placing it in the bowl.
- Add the diced vegetables on top of the greens in the center of the bowl. Put the grapes and tomatoes along the inside perimeter of the bowl. Add the nuts, cranberries and crumbled cheese on top of the diced vegetables. Although it doesn’t affect the taste, having all the add-ins be approximately the same size makes this salad easy to eat and lovely looking in the bowl.
- Sprinkle the salad with oil first, then vinegar, and finally salt and pepper. Or, if you prefer, mix those ingredients separately to make a balsamic dressing then dress the salad.
Now, wasn’t that simple?