Chef Salad

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Because of the 12 Days of Oscar, you won’t see any posts full of hearts or red velvet baked goods or a fancy dinner for two on here today.  Before you run off in search of something with a conversation heart on it, today’s film is a great romantic comedy if that helps.  The 1989 film When Harry Met Sally explores whether or not a man and a woman can ever just be friends.  Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) meet after graduating from the University of Chicago when Sally is headed to New York and her friend arranges for Sally to give her boyfriend, Harry, a ride to New York as well.  After having differing opinions on life and relationships, the two part ways in New York but have a number of encounters over the course of the next twelve years.  The most memorable scene in this movie is the one at Katz’s deli that results in an elderly woman telling the waitress “I’ll have what she’s having.”  It’s a great movie to watch today, no matter your relationship status.   When Harry Met Sally was nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Nora Ephron) but lost to Dead Poets Society (Tom Schulman).

Harry and Sally stop at a diner on their way from Chicago to New York where Harry simply orders “the number three,” while Sally orders a chef salad and apple pie à la mode, but with a long list of substitutions.  “On the side is very big with you,” Harry tells her in one scene.  I wasn’t going to attempt to recreate a Katz’s pastrami sandwich because once I make pastrami at home, Lane will likely demand it for dinner nightly.  That, and I know my limits and I’m willing to bet that nothing I make at home could touch the pastrami at Katz’s.  Instead, I made the chef salad Sally orders during their diner visit, “with oil and vinegar on the side.”

Chef salad is typically a simple combination of hard-boiled eggs, vegetables, meats, cheese, and greens.  The types of meats and cheeses vary from chef to chef and so it’s really up to you what you’d like to include.  Ham and turkey almost always make an appearance and occasionally roast beef or salami.  Some restaurants chop the meats and cheese as you would for a cobb salad, and others roll up thin cold cuts either all together or separately.  Dressings also vary but you really can’t go wrong with the simplicity of a good olive oil and a good red wine vinegar.  The hardest part of making this is hard boiling the egg (I suggest one whole egg per guest) because the rest is just assembling the components.   The sky is really the limit here, the chef salad police aren’t going to come if you add croutons or omit tomatoes.  The amounts below make a salad big enough for two people to share, or a large dinner salad.  If you’re still lacking plans with your sweetheart, get your hands on this film and share a chef salad.  If you’re sweetheart-less, get your hands on this film and have chef salad anyway.

chef salad

Chef Salad


  • 2 C. spring mix lettuce
  • 1 medium cucumber, sliced
  • 1 C. grape tomatoes
  • 2 large eggs, hard-boiled and sliced
  • 4 oz. sliced cold cut ham
  • 4 oz. sliced cold cut turkey
  • 4 oz. thinly sliced cheese of your choice (I suggest provolone or American)
  • 1/2 C. black olives, pitted
  • olive oil
  • red wine vinegar


Place the salad greens on a large plate or serving dish.

Top with sliced cucumber, tomatoes, egg slices and olives as desired.

Roll up the meat slices either separately or combined (you may also roll the cheese up in the meat slices) and place them on top of the salad.

Drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar to taste.

Source: Diana Dishes original (inspired by the many chef salads I’ve consumed over time)


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