Chopped Cobb Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing
In place of bacon, this satisfying salad uses store-bought crispy chickpeas for lower saturated fat and less prep time. Using fresh herbs, bright citrus and a creamy base of yogurt and mayonnaise for the dressing gives it a flavorful finish.
Here's how we made over this recipe to be healthy and diabetes-friendly:
1. We swapped the bacon for crispy chickpeas. While a traditional Cobb salad includes bacon, it also has so many other flavors and textures that the bacon doesn't necessarily stand out. By omitting it, we reduce the overall saturated fat in this meal, and by adding crispy chickpeas instead, we add protein and fiber. You'll save time by using store-bought baked crispy or crunchy chickpeas (look for the brand with the lowest sodium), but you can also make your own.
2. We used low-fat yogurt as the primary ingredient in the creamy dressing. A 2019 meta-analysis that looked at the relationship between dairy foods and type 2 diabetes risk found that yogurt consumption may be linked to a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Low-fat yogurt is a good source of calcium, vitamin D and protein.
3. We've made the blue cheese optional. In a classic Cobb salad, the blue cheese adds a savory, earthy flavor, but we've added those flavors to the creamy garlic dressing instead. The combination of Parmesan cheese, tamari and garlic in the dressing helps punch up this salad with savory flavor, which means that if you're watching calories or saturated fat, you can skip the blue cheese.
4. We use plenty of fresh herbs and citrus. Fresh herbs like parsley and chives are secret weapons in a healthy cook's kitchen: they add a ton of flavor without adding any calories or saturated fat. Lemon juice works the same way: it adds brightness and tang to the dressing with minimal calories. Chances are, you'll have leftover herbs after making this recipe; use any leftover herbs and lemon juice to brighten up the other meals you make this week. You can add chopped herbs as a finishing garnish to nearly any dish, and can serve many meals with a slice of lemon, to be squeezed on just before serving.
Having diabetes doesn't mean you have to give up all of your favorite foods. You just need the know-how (and easy cooking tips) to make better choices. In Make Over My Recipe, a fun cooking show geared toward beginner cooks, Mila Clarke takes classics like mac and cheese, meatloaf, brownies and more comfort foods and uses simple tricks to make them healthier—but just as delicious as ever.
Tips From the EatingWell Test Kitchen
Can I make the salad dressing ahead of time?
We love to prep ahead when we can, too! And for this recipe it's a great idea to make the salad dressing ahead of time. Follow the instructions for making it, then refrigerate it in a jar or other lidded container and use within 2 days. As an added bonus, making the dressing in advance also helps develop flavor. So expect plenty of garlic goodness when you dig into that salad!
I'm not a fan of the herbs used in this dressing; can I use different ones?
We haven't tested the recipe using other herbs, but we bet that many would be delicious here. Try substituting fresh dill, tarragon or cilantro for the parsley. And consider swapping in scallions (the top, green part) or leeks for the chives. Dried herbs can also be used in place of fresh, just cut back the amount—using one-third of the amount of dried herbs when subbing for fresh is a good rule of thumb.
I want to add a little more protein; can I add chicken?
Yes! If you're looking to boost the protein content of this recipe, feel free to add 2 to 3 ounces of cooked chicken or other lean protein. Plain rotisserie chicken is a great option, but any leftover chicken is also great. Or cook a big batch of chicken and keep it in the freezer for moments just like this!
How do I make this recipe vegan?
It's actually easier than you think! The recipe uses yogurt, mayonnaise and cheese; however, you can easily adjust these ingredients to suit your tastes. For the dressing, substitute a plain, plant-based yogurt for the yogurt and use a plant-based mayo instead of the regular mayonnaise. As for the cheese in the dressing and on the salad, you can omit them or swap in a nondairy cheese option, if you'd like.
I'm not a huge fan of romaine lettuce; can I use a different kind of lettuce?
While romaine is typically used for many Cobb salads, who says you can't break the rules? Find your favorite and use it in the place of romaine. Or better yet, use a mix of lettuces for a nice variety of texture.
Can I use a different kind of cucumber?
Luckily for us, there are so many varieties of cucumber available! And luckily for you, any of them will work well in this recipe. While we like mini cucumbers because they're small and sweet, have very few seeds and their skins aren't super tough, you can definitely use an English cucumber (which is similar in texture and flavor) in their place. A common slicing cucumber has a tougher skin and more seeds, but works fine too. Consider removing the seeds if they're overly plentiful.
I can never seem to boil eggs correctly; do you have a good method?
There seems to be a bit of mystery surrounding how to make the perfect hard-boiled egg. But don't worry, it's a lot easier than you think. Use our method and you'll have perfectly cooked eggs every time.
I only have Greek yogurt; can I use it to make the dressing?
We think you can! Strained yogurts like Greek-style are thicker than regular yogurt, so you may want to thin it with a bit of water to get the right consistency. Start with 1 to 2 teaspoons of water and add additional water by the teaspoonful until you get the right consistency.
To make ahead
Refrigerate dressing (Step 1) for up to 2 days.
People with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should use soy sauces that are labeled "gluten-free," as soy sauce may contain wheat or other gluten-containing ingredients.