Kitchen Captivated: Grilled Summer Cobb Salad

Grilled Summer Cobb Salad with chicken, corn, nectarines, red onions, berries, bacon, and cheese. 

When I was dreaming up a recipe for this month’s Kitchen Captivated, I had visions of a slow walk down the aisles of the Yakima Farmers Market, iced coffee in hand, sun warming my shoulders, stopping at each vendor to see what they were offering. It’s one of my favorite summer traditions and something I look forward to all year long.

Unfortunately, because we work months ahead, I had to settle for memories from last year. As I sit here, the wind is blowing the trees sideways and rain is tapping the windows. Alas, summer isn’t quite here but so close I can almost taste it.

I asked my kids what they wanted to do over the summer and I got some of the usual answers: play with friends, sleep in, go swimming, eat ice cream. But I also got a few fun and surprising suggestions that warmed my heart and reminded me how special Yakima is.

They want to pick blueberries (we love Sloop Orchards in Naches), and have pizza and play Frisbee at Bron Yr Aur with friends. They told me about fishing and swimming in the Yakima River and how they loved hiking the Pacific Crest Trail to see wildflowers. We reminisced about finding waterfalls and a little swimming hole up at Chinook Pass and all the hikes we took throughout the summer.

They want to hike to Wilridge Winery in the Cowiche Canyon and ride mountain bikes at Rocky Top. They want to float the Yakima River and go to Downtown Summer Nights free concerts. They want strawberry lemonades at the Farmers Market on Sunday mornings and pizza with friends at Hop Town Pizza. As far as I can tell, we are going to have an epic and very tasty summer.

This grilled Cobb salad with a bright basil vinaigrette is perfect all summer long — in fact, I would go so far as to say it actually tastes like summer. Chicken thighs, bacon, corn on the cob, red onion and stone fruit all take their turn on the grill until crispy and tender. Piled high on crunchy fresh greens with sweet berries and a bright flavorful dressing, this easy recipe is one you’ll go back to over and over again.

And one last note about the recipe: it’s incredibly versatile. You could swap cherries for the berries or skip the fruit altogether and grill bell peppers instead. Don’t forget about ripe tomatoes straight from your garden and add or swap for any cheese you like. This recipe is just meant to be a starting point for you make a combination of your favorite summer flavors.

Grilled Summer Cobb Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

2 6-ounce containers romaine & baby spinach lettuces

4-6 boneless chicken thighs

2 ears fresh corn on the cob

1 red onion, sliced into rings

2-3 stone fruit (nectarines, peaches or plums),

sliced in half and pitted, DO NOT PEEL

1 cup sliced strawberries

½ cup blueberries

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

4 slices center-cut bacon

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat grill to medium heat. Trim excess skin and fat from chicken thighs. Lightly brush with olive oil and salt and pepper both sides of the meat liberally. Set aside.

Slice red onion into thin rings. Slice stone fruit in half and remove pits. Husk corn. Lightly brush the onion and corn with olive oil and salt and pepper.

Bring chicken, bacon, onion, corn and stone fruit out to the grill. Start by cooking the bacon and chicken. I prefer to cook my bacon on a piece of tin foil off direct heat, flipping it halfway through. You can also cook your bacon in a pan or the oven, whichever way you prefer. Grill the chicken for about 5 minutes on one side and 3 minutes on the other. Remove the meat once it’s cooked through (both chicken and bacon).

Grill the corn, onion and stone fruit for about 4-6 minutes. Rotate or flip the corn and onion to get grill marks on all sides. Let the stone fruit grill flesh side down for about 2 minutes. Flip once and let grill on the skin side for an additional 1 minute.

Once all the salad elements are grilled and ready, assemble your salad. Slice chicken into strips and dice bacon into bite-size pieces.

In a large bowl layer the chicken, corn, onion, stone fruit, strawberries, blueberries, feta cheese and bacon over the salad greens. Drizzle with basil vinaigrette and serve immediately. Salad serves 6 dinner size portions.

Basil Vinaigrette

2 cups tightly-packed fresh basil leaves

2 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

½ small white or yellow onion, roughly chopped

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Dash of red pepper flakes

Juice of 1 lemon

½ cup olive oil

In a blender or food processor combine basil, garlic, onion, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and lemon juice. Pulse briefly. Turn back on and slowly pour in the olive oil until ingredients are smooth and combined.

Store in a glass container with lid in the refrigerator for up to two days.