Canlis’ Special Salad


Oh, my! I’m soooo disappointed in the way Canlis’ Special Salad was portrayed in last night’s episode of Top Chef: Seattle. First of all, I really did want to get this post done before they filmed at Canlis (but I don’t have any connections with the production team to let me know what is featured in each episode). Second, the way the salad was prepared and presented was a disgrace. It doesn’t matter that she’d never tasted the salad before. What was Chrissy thinking putting all of that dressing on the untrimmed (ugly) leaves of romaine? That salad just looked S-A-D! “I can’t get sent home on something as stupid as a salad,” she whined. Argh!

It’s not a stupid salad. A well-known and long-loved starter at an iconic restaurant, this salad is similar to a Caesar salad (but SO much better). The fresh mint and oregano with the crunchy bacon… yummy! From the Canlis website: “Of all the recipes requested, none is more cherished than the Canlis Salad. Taught to him by his Lebanese mother, the Canlis salad was perfected by Peter Canlis and introduced to the world on opening night, December 11, 1950. Served in homes and restaurants around the world, the recipe, as it appears below, is one of our family’s prized possessions.

In the 1950’s, Canlis created these souvenir recipe cards for their guests (this one was given to me by my grandma Izzy).

I’m sure you’ll agree that a cold, crisp, perfectly dressed salad with lots of delicious condiments is a sign of an amazing meal to follow. I’ve made this salad for years and I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to share the recipe with you today (and give this salad the recognition it deserves). EnJOY!

If you’d like to read more about the iconic Canlis restaurant and it’s connection to President Teddy Roosevelt, check out their wonderful website here.

Rub wooden bowl with garlic, layer in tomatoes, lettuce & condiments. Dress lightly. Add croutons. Toss and enJOY!

Canlis’ Special Salad

Recipe Type: Salad
Author: Peter Canlis
Serves: 4-6
I’ve made a few adjustments the original recipe: I put the mint and oregano directly into the salad (rather than the dressing) for a fresher flavor, and I use a lot more mint (Padma would agree!)
  • 2 heads Romaine
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
  • 2 peeled tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
  • 1 lb. rendered finely chopped bacon
  • 1 cup croutons
  • 6 Tbsp. Olive Oil + 2 Tbsp. for the bowl
  • 5 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 coddled egg
  • 1 clove garlic
  • salt
  1. Into a large bowl (wooden) pour approximately 2 Tbsp. of good imported olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and rub firmly with a large clove of garlic. (The oil will act as a lubricant and the salt as an abrasive). Remove garlic and in the bottom of the bowl first place the tomatoes cut into eighths, add Romaine, sliced into 1″ strips. You may add other salad vegetables if you choose, but remember to put the heavy vegetables in first with Romaine on top. Add condiments (onions, cheese, bacon, croutons, herbs).
  2. Dressing: Into a bowl pour the olive oil, lemon juice and pepper. Add coddled egg (place the egg in gently simmering water for 1 minute – this unwinds the proteins for better emulsification) and whisk vigorously.
  3. When ready to serve, pour dressing over salad. Add croutons last. Toss generously.




  1. […] complicated or labor intensive. My menu: Chicken Marsala served with a side of pasta and a bowl of Canlis’ Special Salad. Pefect! My friend, Anne, gave me the biggest compliment when she asked if she could take home the […]

  2. Loved the post…..My husband especially LOVES Canlis as you know!

    • JoyAldrich says:

      So happy you liked it, Michelle! I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to use that vintage recipe card… my experiences at Canlis have all been exceptional, until that night with you and Jim. 🙁 We know there were special circumstances surrounding that event, though…

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