The 1905 Salad. Never heard of it? You haven't traveled to Florida very often. The Columbia Restaurant, now a chain of six or seven restaurants (I've lost track) throughout The Sunshine State, is a fourth-generation family-owned business that specializes in really good Spanish food at reasonable prices. To say it is a tourist attraction is true to some extent, we ate there and we were tourists, but, we ate there on the recommendation of a native Floridian. Now, whenever I am in Florida, if there is a Columbia within striking distance, I'm going there for The 1905 Salad!
The original Columbia Restaurant opened its doors in Ybor City (a district of Tampa) in 1905, and, The 1905 Salad, which came along later, was named in its honor. It was prepared tableside, as it is today, along with several other menu items. I find tableside preparations charming and whenever I'm in an eatery that offers them, for me, it is a sign of a service-oriented establishment.
The flagship Columbia is now over 52,000 square feet, occupies one entire block of the city, and, boasts 19 well-appointed (exquisite) dining rooms and a wine cellar containing over 15,000 bottles of wine. Note: I "borrowed" these 3 photos from their website, but I don't think they'll mind!
A bit about The 1905 Salad (a page from their menu):
The "1905" is a melange of unpretentious ingredients: broken pieces of crispy iceberg lettuce, julienned ham or turkey and Swiss cheese, tomato wedges, pimento-stuffed green olives and Romano cheese. A garlicy dressing, made with Spanish olive oil and dried oregano, is made several hours ahead of time so the flavors intensify. It gets tossed into the salad at serving time along with fresh lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. At the Columbia, this is all ceremoniously done at your table by tuxedo-clad waiters. It is a fun and memorable experience!
I have some luscious, leftover-from-Easter Berkshire ham in my refrigerator, half of a turkey breast that I roasted this past Sunday, and, a wedge of Jarlsberg Swiss cheese. The rest of the ingredients are on-hand in my pantry. The sun is shining, my back doors are all open, and, I feel like I am in Florida. It's a perfect day to celebrate with a fresh, crisp, tangy "1905"!
1 cup extra-virgin Spanish olive oil
8-12 garlic cloves, run through a press
4-6 teaspoons dried oregano
4-6-8 tablespoons white wine vinegar, to taste
sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste (1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper)
2-3 tablespoons each Worcestershire sauce & fresh lemon juice, reserved for later
*Note: The Columbia's recipe (see below) calls for 2 cups of dressing, which means the recipe they provided needs to be doubled. My recipe and photo (above) reflects that (I doubled the quantities for you). That being said, I always have about 1/2 cup leftover, which I serve tableside. Remember: Whisk the salad dressing together a minimum of several hours in advance of serving -- but, one or two days in advance (stored in the refrigerator) is even better!
4-6 cups iceberg lettuce, cored and broken into 1 1/2" - 1 3/4" pieces (I use one small head of iceberg, which is pictured above.)
1 large, ripe tomato, cut into 6-8 wedges (I'm a tomato lover and I use 6-8 small Campari tomatoes, sliced into 6 wedges, also pictured above.)
1/2 cup julienne of Swiss cheese (I add 1 cup, and, I use Jarlsburg.)
Note: Yes, you can certainly cube your ingredients, but that wouldn't be a real-deal 1905 salad. Take the time to keep it looking authentic!
1/2 - 3/4 cup whole, pimento-stuffed green Spanish olives, well-drained
1/2 -3/4 cup finely-grated Romano cheese
1905 salad dressing (from above recipe) + the Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice
**Note: In the Columbia restaurant, they serve a high volume of these salads, at tableside, each day. They purchase large quantities of ingredients, then, carefully measure and portion them for consistency and efficient service: 4 cups lettuce, 1 tomato cut into 8 wedges, 1/2 cup each of julienned ham, Swiss cheese, pimento-stuffed green olives, and 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese. In the home kitchen, this is not necessary. Adjust your quantities to your liking. For instance: one small head of iceburg lettuce yields a generous 6 cups of lettuce which is convenient for me, I'm a tomato lover so I want extra tomato wedges in my portion, and, if I'm going to get my husband to eat a salad for dinner, he wants me to be very generous with the meat and cheese!
~Steps, 2, 3, 4 & 5. Shake or whisk the 1905 dressing, to thoroughly combine and add 1 cup of it to the iceberg mixture. Using a pair of salad servers, gently toss, until ingredients are lightly coated in dressing with no liquid puddling in the bottom of the bowl. Add and gently toss in the Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice. Add more of the 1905 dressing, until the salad suits your taste (I error on the side of less dressing and opt to serve any leftover dressing at tableside). Gently toss in the Romano cheese. Do not overdress this salad. Serve immediately.
Note: I like to garnish each portion of salad with a sprinkling of additional Romano cheese, and, some freshly ground black pepper or peppercorn blend. I occasionally toss in a few garlic croutons at the end too.
Croutons are not a part of the the original 1905 salad recipe, but, they are really, REALLY good in it. They obvioulsy add a nice crunch, which everyone in my house loves, but, more than that, they seem to round out this main course salad meal. Meet my 1905 with garlic croutons:
Special Equipment List: garlic press; 2-cup measuring container with tight-fitting lid and pourer top, or, 2-cup food storage container w//lid; cutting board; chef's knife; microplane grater; whisk (optional); salad servers
Cook's Note: Well-made croutons are hard for anyone to resist. As I always say, "never buy croutons". All you need is some leftover firm-textured bread, some butter and an herb or a spice. To learn ~ How to: Make Croutons (& Toasts) ~ just click into Categories 2, 5, 9 or 15!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)