Allow me to introduce you to one of the best iceberg lettuce salads you will ever taste: the legendary “1905” salad from the Columbia restaurant chain in Florida.
I almost never repost someone else’s recipe. But today I’m making an exception and I’ll tell you why:
This is one of the most delicious salads I’ve ever eaten — and probably one you may never have heard of unless you’ve eaten at Columbia Restaurant in Florida.
Aside from introducing you to the 1905 salad, there are two other reasons I’m posting this unmodified recipe:
- Iceberg lettuce is not getting the recognition it deserves. It’s crisp, mild, juicy and doesn’t get soggy as quickly as other types of lettuce. It’s time for Iceberg to take the spotlight!
- This recipe is affordable with easy-to-find ingredients you may already have on hand in your pantry or fridge.
The history of the salad “1905”.
The original Columbia Restaurant was opened in Tampa, Florida in 1905 by Spanish-Cuban immigrants. The Columbia is Florida’s oldest restaurant and its 1905 Salad is the most iconic item on its menu.
According to the story, in the 1940s one of the waiters, Tony Noriega, got hungry after his shift and searched the fridge and pantry for something to eat. He found iceberg lettuce, ham, Swiss cheese, olives, and tons of dressing ingredients—and invented what’s now known as the 1905 Salad.
The recipe stuck – and now you’re lucky enough to hear about it and find out what all the fuss is about.
A perfect salad
When I visited Columbia Restaurant in Saint Augustine, Florida, I reluctantly ordered an appetizer-sized 1905 salad. I didn’t find it too unusual – but my boyfriend raved about it and told me I had to try it.
The servers do it at the table, making it easier to replicate at home. And the restaurant lists the recipe on its website and sells bottles of dressing.
I can only say yummm. That was a mighty fine salad.
The salad, ham, swiss cheese, olives and parmesan were all great – but the dressing made the salad. The base is olive oil, white wine vinegar, 4 fresh cloves of garlic, salt and pepper.
But when serving, a whole lemon is squeezed onto the salad and 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce drizzled over it. (That’s some serious acidity and umami if you keep track of it.)
I wish I had ordered the larger salad. And ate everything alone.
This salad is perfect just the way it is and I recommend following the original recipe as closely as possible.
However, it’s still delicious with these substitutions:
- Instead of ham, you can substitute turkey, salami, or cooked shrimp
- Instead of Romano cheese, you can substitute Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano
- You can also use red wine vinegar instead of white wine vinegar
1 head iceberg lettuce, torn into 1.5 x 1.5 inch pieces
1 tomato, eighths
4 or 5 slices of prosciutto, julienned
3 or 4 slices of Swiss cheese, julienned
1/2 cup green Spanish olives
1905 Salad Dressing (recipe below)
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Shredded Romano Cheese
For 1905 salad dressing
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/8 cup white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
- make dressing: Combine olive oil, garlic, oregano, vinegar, salt and pepper in a sealable jar. Shake vigorously until the dressing is emulsified. Put aside.
- Combine lettuce, ham, tomato, Swiss cheese and green olives in a large salad bowl.
- Serve: Toss the salad ingredients in the 1905 Salad Dressing. Squeeze the lemon over the salad using a sieve, drizzle over the Worcestershire sauce and distribute evenly. Use a micro-slicer to grate cheese over lettuce and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.