Allow me to introduce you one of the best iceberg lettuce salads you will ever eat: The iconic “1905” Salad, from the Columbia Restaurant chain in Florida.

The "1905" Salad, from the Columbia Restaurant chain in Florida. Click through for recipe.

I almost never repost someone else’s recipe. But today I am making an exception, and I’ll tell you why:

This is one of the most delicious salads I’ve ever eaten – and it’s probably one you may not have heard of, unless you’ve eaten at the Columbia Restaurant in Florida.

Besides introducing you to the 1905 Salad, there are two other reasons I’m posting this unaltered recipe:

  • Iceberg lettuce doesn’t get the credit it’s due. It’s crisp, mild, juicy, and doesn’t get soggy as quickly as some other varieties of lettuce. It’s time iceberg gets the spotlight!
  • This recipe is affordable, with easy-to-find ingredients that you may already have on hand in your pantry or fridge right now.

The "1905" Salad, from the Columbia Restaurant in Florida. Try this iconic recipe at home!

The “1905” Salad’s History

The original Columbia Restaurant opened in 1905 in Tampa, Florida, by Spanish-Cuban immigrants. The Columbia is Florida’s oldest restaurant, and its 1905 Salad is the most iconic item on its menu.

As the story goes, in the 1940s, one of the waiters, Tony Noriega, got hungry after his shift and scoured the fridge and pantry looking for something to eat. He found iceberg lettuce, ham, swiss cheese, olives, and a host of dressing ingredients – and came up with what is now known as the 1905 Salad.

The recipe stuck – and now you’re lucky enough to know about it and find out what all the fuss is about. 

What you'll need to make the 1905 Salad. Click through for detailed recipe.

A Perfect Salad

When I visited the Columbia Restaurant in Saint Augustine, Florida, I reluctantly ordered an appetizer-sized 1905 Salad. I didn’t think it sounded too out of the ordinary – but my friend raved about it and told me I had to try it.

The servers make it tableside, which makes it easier to replicate at home. And the restaurant lists the recipe on its website and sells bottles of dressing.

All I can say is dayummmm. That was a mighty fine salad.

The lettuce, ham, Swiss cheese, olives, and Parmesan cheese on top were all great – but the dressing is what made the salad. The base is olive oil, white wine vinegar, 4 cloves of fresh garlic, salt, and pepper.

But upon serving, a whole lemon is squeezed on top of the salad, and 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce is drizzled on. (That’s some serious acid and umami, if you’re keeping track.)

I wish I had ordered the bigger salad. And eaten it all by myself. 

What you'll need to make the dressing for the 1905 Salad, from the Columbia Restaurant.

Substitutions

This salad is perfect as-is, and I recommend sticking to the original recipe as closely as possible.

However, it is 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
  • Instead of white wine vinegar, you can substitute red wine vinegar

The iconic 1905 Salad from the Columbia Restaurant in Saint Augustine, Florida.

"1905" Salad

Yield: 2 large or 4 regular servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

If time allows, make the dressing a day or two ahead of time to let the flavors meld. And consider making a double batch so you can make more salad throughout the week.

Ingredients

  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, torn into 1.5 x 1.5-inch pieces
  • 1 tomato, cut into eights
  • 4 or 5 slices of deli ham, 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 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/8 cup white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Make dressing: Combine olive oil, garlic, oregano, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a sealable jar. Shake vigorously until dressing is emulsified. Set aside.
  2. In a large salad bowl, combine lettuce, ham, tomato, Swiss cheese, and green olives.
  3. To serve: Toss the salad ingredients in the 1905 Salad dressing. Squeeze lemon over a strainer onto salad, drizzle on Worcestershire sauce, and toss to evenly distribute. Use a microplaner to shred cheese over salad, and top with fresh cracked black pepper.

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