Make the original Columbia 1905 Salad and dressing recipe at home! You don't have to visit the restaurant to enjoy this hearty chef's salad with a zesty garlic vinaigrette.
Fresh, crisp iceberg lettuce, julienne baked ham and Swiss cheese, juicy tomatoes, salty green olives, and grated Romano cheese make up this famous salad. Everything is tossed with a tangy olive oil and vinegar dressing.
I'm lucky. I've eaten at every Columbia restaurant, from Ybor City to St. Augustine. And I've enjoyed their iconic 1905 salad made tableside more times than I can count, including on my honeymoon!
The recipe is no secret. In fact, the restaurant shares it in a cookbook and on its website. So, I'm just here to sing its praises and share tips to easily make this copycat recipe at home.
Why you'll love this recipe:
- It takes about 15 minutes to make.
- You probably have most ingredients on hand, including the secret ingredient in the dressing!
- It's budget-friendly.
- It's low-carb, gluten-free, and pretty healthy!
- It's perfect for entertaining.
The Columbia Restaurant opened in Ybor City, Tampa in 1905. However, the salad wasn't "invented" until 1940 by waiter Tony Noriega. He threw this salad together, using leftover Spanish and Italian ingredients from the kitchen.
It was renamed the 1905 Salad on the 75th anniversary of the famed restaurant. It was an off-menu item at first, so it was made tableside. And it's still served that way today.
The Columbia restaurant pays attention to detail and only uses the finest ingredients. You'll always get a better result when you do the same. That said, you can still thoroughly enjoy this salad, even if you make a few substitutions.
- Iceberg lettuce shines in this recipe. It's not usually my first choice for a salad. But, if you're trying to replicate the original, this is what you need to use because it's crispy and crunchy. Romaine lettuce is the next best choice.
- Tomatoes. The Columbia uses large vine-ripened beefsteak tomatoes. Other types, such as heirloom or cherry tomatoes, would be fine too. The key is to pick juicy ones. Cut them into large wedges, about 8 sections for a large tomato.
- Swiss cheese. Packaged slices of Swiss cheese are easy to work with and perfect for this recipe. Cut them into matchsticks about 2 inches x ⅛ of an inch.
- Ham. The Columbia uses baked ham, julienned to be the same size as the cheese. Thicker slices of deli ham are easy to work with and are a good substitution.
- Note: Cut ham and cheese into cubes or bigger pieces if desired. It will taste the same!
- Spanish olives stuffed with pimentos that have been pitted. They're also labeled Manzanilla olives and can be found on the food aisle with pickles and relishes. They lend a salty flavor to the salad.
- Romano cheese is freshly grated over the top. Pecorino Romano cheese is made from sheep's milk and has a bold, salty flavor. Parmesan cheese is the next best cheese to use.
Variation: You can make this with shrimp instead of ham.
1905 Salad Dressing
The dressing on the 1905 salad brings everything together. Here's what you'll need:
- Fresh garlic cloves - Use a garlic press to quickly add this to the dressing.
- Dried oregano
- Worcestershire sauce - this is the secret ingredient! The Columbia restaurant uses Lea and Perrins.
- Spanish olive oil - You may already use it and not even know it! It has a bold, fruity flavor. Other extra virgin olive oils work equally well in this recipe.
- White wine vinegar - This type of vinegar is made from white wine. It has a slightly mellow, fruity flavor compared to other kinds of vinegar. Apple cider vinegar may be the best substitution in a pinch, but it will definitely taste different.
- Lemon juice - If you're going for a copycat of the original, use fresh lemons.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions.
Salad Dressing Directions
To make the vinaigrette:
- Mix minced garlic, dried oregano, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and white wine vinegar until smooth.
- Gradually stream olive oil into the mixture, whisking the entire time.
- Season with salt.
3 Ways to Emulsify Dressing
It's important to emulsify the oil and vinegar when you make it. This combines the ingredients so the dressing is smooth and a little thicker. The process causes droplets of the olive oil to be suspended in the vinegar, at least temporarily.
- The most common way is to slowly pour the olive oil into the vinegar, vigorously whisking the entire time.
- If you have an immersion blender, place all of the ingredients into a glass and use the blender to do the mixing for you. A food processor can be used as well.
- The last option is to combine the ingredients in a tightly-sealed jar and agitate them. Be sure to give it more than just a few shakes!
Regardless of your method, if you prepare the salad dressing in advance, you will need to recombine the ingredients before serving.
1905 Salad Directions
Everything can be mixed together in one bowl before serving. However, the heavier ingredients will fall to the bottom.
The Columbia does a great job of divvying everything up! But, we find it much easier to do it this way:
- Add lettuce to a large bowl and toss with salad dressing.
- Divide the coated lettuce between serving bowls and top with ham, cheese, tomatoes, and olives.
- Sprinkle Romano cheese over the top and enjoy!
What to Serve with 1905 Salad
Serve this salad as a main dish or side salad depending upon the serving size. It will come with warm Cuban bread wrapped in paper to enjoy with sweet cream butter at the restaurant.
It's commonly paired with a Cuban sandwich and would be fantastic with Shrimp Couscous Paella!
Storage, Make Ahead
- Refrigerator. Once assembled, the 1905 Salad does not store very well. If you're planning for leftovers, serve the dressing on the side.
- Make Ahead. The ingredients and salad dressing can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. The dressing will separate after a while. Simply allow it to warm up a few minutes on the counter and recombine. Assemble everything just before serving.
Turn these salads into a main course meal too!
Did you make this recipe?
Please leave a rating and tell us how you liked it!
Columbia 1905 Salad Recipe
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon oregano, dried
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil Spanish
- ⅛ cup White wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ⅛ teaspoon salt or to taste
- 6 cups Iceberg lettuce torn into bite-sized pieces
- 2 tomatoes ripe, cut into large wedges
- ½ cup Swiss cheese julienned
- ½ cup baked ham julienned
- ¼ cup Spanish olives pitted
- 1 Tablespoon Romano cheese grated; or Parmesan cheese
- Mix garlic, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and white wine vinegar in a bowl until smooth. Gradually stream olive oil into the mixture whiles whisking to form an emulsion. Season with salt.
- Add lettuce to a large bowl and toss with salad dressing.
- Divide the coated lettuce between serving bowls and top with ham, cheese, tomatoes, and olives. Note: Everything can be mixed in one bowl before serving. However, the heavy ingredients will fall to the bottom.
- Sprinkle grated Romano cheese over the top and enjoy!