Typically, chef salads contain a bed of lettuce, such as Bibb or Boston, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, cucumbers and one or more types of meat, like turkey, ham and roast beef. Chef salads can also use avocados and tomatoes. They are finished with salt and pepper and a dressing; The Food Network suggests using shallot vinaigrette, ranch or blue cheese dressing.
The origin of the chef salad remains unclear, but it has been an American staple since the 1940s. As with other foods, chef salads have evolved over time. Traditionally, they were prepared with anchovies, but are now topped with dressings instead.
Although there is some disagreement over the origins of chef salad, its preparation is universal. Chefs start with a bed of lettuce, which is torn into bite-size pieces, then tossed with salt, pepper and olive oil. The lettuce can either be placed in a large serving bowl or placed into individual bowls. Next, chefs cut two shelled hard-boiled eggs to layer over the lettuce. Cuts with the eggs, as with the vegetables, cheese and meat, are made julienne-style.
Chefs have some room for personal preference, as chef salads can use 4 ounces of ham, smoked turkey, chicken, roast beef and even duck breast. Along with the meat, chefs slice the cucumber and tomatoes into thin pieces. The ingredients are then arranged over the bed of lettuce in the shape of a wheel. Salads are served with croutons, if desired, and dressing.