The Signature Salad

signature-salad-closeup

Simple, fresh ingredients and a light vinaigrette combine to create a salad light enough to serve as a starter course yet so diverse and robust that it can hold its own as a main entree. Mixed baby greens serve as a bed for all of the fantastic additions that will jump onto every forkful – red grapes, fresh pears, dried cranberries, pistachio nuts, and gorgonzola cheese. The pears and grapes are crisp and bright, the dried cranberries soft and tart, the pistachios are salty and add crunch, while the cheese is creamy and tangy. The shallots in the vinaigrette add a bite to the salad and the combination of these incredible flavors and textures result in an amazing salad, one that is better than perhaps any I have ever made at home. Easy enough for a quick weeknight meal, yet impressive enough to serve to guests for lunch, or as a starter course for any holiday celebration or dinner party. It takes what is typically a ho-hum side salad to the next level and will make your meal memorable.

signature-salad-side

Thanks go out to my Chief Culinary Consultant for introducing me to this fabulous salad. I had heard about this salad for quite some time, as he has talked about ordering it for lunch at Cosi many times. On Saturday we had it as a starter course to a filet and baked potato dinner, and then ate it again on Sunday before having pork chops. I apparently couldn’t get enough because I made it for dinner on Monday, in entree-sized portions. Everyone who ate this couldn’t stop raving about it and I think everyone would have been happy to polish off a second bowl.

As you can see in the recipe below, I have made a couple of suggestions regarding substitutions. While this recipe includes gorgonzola cheese, I realize that a good many people do not enjoy cheeses in the blue family; a great substitution for the gorgonzola would be feta cheese, as it delivers that same tangy bite. The second ingredient that I list a substitution for is the sherry vinegar. I looked in two large grocery stores for sherry vinegar and couldn’t find it in either, so I have to assume that it’s not an ingredient that is readily available. Since sherry is a type of wine, I decided to substitute red wine vinegar in this recipe, and had great results. You could also use white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar if you have either of those in your pantry.

Hungry for more light summer salads? Check out these recipes:
Cobb Salad
Panzanella Salad

1 year ago: Fettuccine Alfredo with Homemade Pasta
2 years ago: Perfect Chocolate Cake

The Signature Salad

Yield: Makes 4 main course servings, or 8 side dish servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

8 ounces mixed greens
2 cups red grapes, sliced in half
2 pears, peeled, cored, and diced
2/3 cup dried cranberries (Craisins)
½ cup shelled pistachios
2 ounces gorgonzola cheese

Sherry Shallot Vinaigrette
1 medium shallot, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup sherry vinegar (if you can't find sherry vinegar, substitute red wine vinegar)
½ cup olive oil

Directions:

To prepare the salad, combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl.

Combine all dressing ingredients through the vinegar in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Whisking constantly, slowly pour olive oil into the vinegar mixture in a steady stream. Pour over salad and toss to combine.

Serve immediately.

(Inspired by the Cosi Signature Salad, by way of my Chief Culinary Consultant)

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43 Responses to “The Signature Salad”

  1. Chris on August 4, 2009 at 2:04 am

    I always find a salad with fruit can sometimes go horribly wrong; it’s a gamble for me.

    Reply

  2. Trent @ SmartShopIt on August 4, 2009 at 6:44 am

    Fruit with salad is always a winner with me. I have done version of this for a while. I used candied walnuts instead of pistachios. Then again, use whatever is available, right!?!

    Reply

  3. Alta on August 4, 2009 at 8:32 am

    Please, please please come make this for me for lunch! Yum! I did save it to my recipe box so I can make it very soon.

    Reply

  4. Michelle on August 4, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Trent – candied walnuts sound like they’d be fantastic in this dish! And you’re right – using what you have available is a great approach.

    Alta – I hope you enjoy it!

    Reply

  5. Mathilde's Cuisine on August 4, 2009 at 9:18 am

    I have always loved the mix of cheese and grapes, it works very well together. Very beautiful salad

    Reply

  6. Andrea@WellnessNotes on August 4, 2009 at 11:34 am

    I haven’t added fruit and gorgonzola to a salad in a long time. This sounds really good!

    Reply

  7. Bridget {Bake at 350} on August 4, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Salad is not normally something I crave, but I just bookmarked this….it sounds like the perfect combination of flavors!

    Reply

  8. Maria on August 4, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    I make a similar salad and I use feta! Lovely photos!

    Reply

  9. Erin Brooks on August 4, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Yum I want some! That sounds so good! I’d love to make this for my family. Too bad I’m the only one who would eat it, oh well more for me! :D

    Reply

  10. bakingmomma on August 4, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    I just coming around to salads and this look delicious. As usual job well done!

    Reply

  11. Liz Marr, MS, RD on August 4, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Looks absolutely delicious. I want to dive right into the bowl!

    Reply

  12. Lizz Slabaugh on August 4, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    I love a salad with fruit in it.. For some reason it just works so well with salad dressing!

    Reply

  13. sherri on August 5, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Love it- and your suggestions! Your photos are so pretty-always.

    Reply

  14. Danielle on August 5, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    I absolutely love grapes in my salads!

    Reply

  15. Debi (Table Talk) on August 5, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    My first book is a salad cookbook “Signature Salads”, so the title of your post caught my eye. —Fruit, nuts, and cheese are always a fantastic combination in a salad…especially when matched with a dressing as you have here. Delicious.

    Reply

  16. Cookin' Canuck on August 6, 2009 at 9:06 am

    This is the kind of salad that I could eat all day! The gorgonzola is a must for me.

    Reply

  17. Heidi on August 8, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Oh, your salad sounds divine. I often resort to bottled dressings and regret it, but I will shake up a batch of your vinagrette and know I will not regret it.

    Reply

  18. Lizz Slabaugh on August 9, 2009 at 7:40 am

    Made this yesterday and the BF loved it !! and of course i did too.

    Reply

  19. Bev on August 10, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    I love fruit in my salads, especially in summer. I am making this for dinner tonight.

    Reply

  20. Michelle on August 10, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Lizz – So glad to hear you and your boyfriend enjoyed this! Thanks so much for stopping back to share your results!

    Bev – I hope you enjoy it as well! Stop back and let me know what you thought!

    Reply

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  24. Cate on March 7, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    That’s one of my favorite items from Cosi. Yum! I had it last week for lunch!

    Reply

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  28. Anne on August 1, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I love this combination of flavors in a salad and your recipe sounds so delicious! This one is a must try soon!

    Reply

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  30. Renee on August 2, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    How did I miss this recipe?! I’ve only had the Cosi signature salad once 4 years ago. Since we don’t have a Cosi in NM, I’ve been wanting to find a copycat recipe since! This is on the top of my list now… thanks!!!

    Reply

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  32. Janice Hashey on September 5, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    This is a fabulous salad. I always get positive comments when I serve it, and many people ask for the recipe. I believe pears are what makes this so tasty, after that you can do slight substitutions, especially with the cheese.

    Reply

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  34. Boomer on April 2, 2012 at 1:59 am

    This is a great salad! And my dinner party guests loved it as well. I used Roqueforte, since I can’t find Gorgonzola where I live, and prefered it to the feta I tried on the left-overs the next day. I halfed the garlic.

    Reply

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  36. Lisa on August 26, 2012 at 8:51 am

    I love the Cosi salad, and have been looking for the dressing recipe! Thanks!

    Reply

  37. summa on November 3, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    had this salad at COSI for the first time last week and it was A HIT! and just had it today.. they forgot the craisins – MAKES all the difference in the world. Soo happyI stumbled upon your site. now I can make it on my own and ENSURE its a homerun every time.. whats so nice is its light, delicious and reasonably satisfying…

    Reply

  38. Linda Parker on January 28, 2013 at 11:40 am

    We went to Cosi for the first time yesterday & my husband ordered this salad & shared some with me. It was so delicious that I had to search for the recipe & ended up here. So thank you for the recipe! One thing I noticed at Cosi they don’t peel the pear. In fact, at first glance I thought it was apple in the salad. So, you can save some time & trouble by skipping the peeling.

    Reply

  39. Jay on March 10, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    This was so delicious! We had it as a side dish to chicken…and then again for lunch the next day! The mixed greens held up to storage in the fridge, even after the salad had been dressed.
    I also did not peel my pears, and it was an added pop of color.

    http://www.jaytriedandtrue.blogspot.com

    Reply

  40. Lynne on May 12, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    I made this yesterday with only 2 modifications – I used double the amount of greens and only 1/3 c of the olive oil. I also didn’t have sherry vinegar, so I used white wine vinegar because I think it’s a bit milder than red wine/balsamic. I thought the proportions were very good, although you probably could cut back even more on the dressing. The fruit gives off a lot of liquid. It was a real hit with my friends. I love the tip of leaving the skin on the pear, I will do that when I make this again with greens I still have left over.

    Reply

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  43. sophie on August 19, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    this does NOT taste nearly the same !!
    Do not try

    Reply

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