The Columbia's 1905 Salad Recipe is an iconic dish from the oldest Spanish restaurant in the Tampa area right in the heart of Ybor City, FL. A Tampa classic with cool and crisp lettuce with Swiss cheese, ham, tomatoes, celery, and Spanish olives is married to a tangy delicious homemade salad dressing that has a unique flavor.
The Columbia Restaurant
The Columbia Restaurant is nestled in the heart of Ybor City and is the oldest restaurant in Florida. Over its lifetime the restaurant has grown to encompass an entire city block and even started out as a saloon.
It said that waiter Tony Noriega pulled the salad together late one night after the restaurant closed from what was left in the kitchen to make this 1905 salad recipe for staff.
It eventually made its way to the menu as the ubiquitous salad bar came onto the scene in the 1970s. The name of the salad comes from the year the restaurant started in the Tampa area, 1905.
Why this works
- Simple and tasty - the perfect blend of crispy cool lettuce and ripe tomatoes with flavorful garlic cloves and tart green Spanish olives for a vibrant green salad that doesn't take a long time to make.
- Main course or side - this delicious 1905 salad recipe can be either a hearty main dish or one of the best side salads you've ever had to compliment grilled chicken or smoked pork.
Ingredients you will need
Here is a quick snapshot of the ingredients you'll need for this recipe. Scroll to the recipe card where you will find the exact measurements.
- Lettuce - the 1905 salad recipe is traditionally made with chopped iceberg lettuce, but romaine lettuce is also acceptable.
- Ham - this is a great way to use up leftover ham, but you can order ham from the deli in a sandwich cut or what is called a dinner cut.
- Celery - is in the original recipe and it is still served with it at some of the Columbia restaurant locations.
- Green Spanish Olives - be sure to use pitted green Spanish olives with no pimentos. Pimentos will change the flavor profile of the salad. The use of black olives in the recipe is said to have been used when this was first created and could be used as a substitution.
- White wine vinegar - is best but you can also use sherry vinegar or champagne vinegar in a pinch.
How to make this
Step 1: Combine the salad ingredients
Take the head of iceberg lettuce and chop it into large pieces, slice the celery stalks, and cut tomatoes into wedge slices. Cut the ham and Swiss cheese into julienne slices.
To julienne cut something means you will cut them into matchstick-like pieces. If your green olives have pits then remove those.
In a large salad bowl combine lettuce, tomatoes, celery, ham, Swiss cheese, olives, and Parmesan cheese. Toss the ingredients to distribute them evenly.
Step 2: Combine the dressing ingredients
In a small bowl or jar combine the extra-virgin Spanish olive oil, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and minced garlic. Whisk together or add a lid to the jar and shake. Pour prepared salad and toss to combine.
Salt and pepper to taste. However, you can leave this up to the individual to do on the plate.
The salad dressing can be made ahead, and the salad ingredients combined. Wait until just prior to serving to mix together the dressing and salad for this 1905 salad recipe.
You can chop or shred the lettuce either is fine. Dried oregano is fine but you can also use fresh.
Keeping the lettuce cool allows it to retain moisture while permitting airflow. Special crisper containers are perfect for this allowing the air to flow through and retaining the moisture of the lettuce.
The oldest salad dressing comes from the Babylonians which is a simple oil and vinegar dressing.
Store for up to two weeks in an airtight container. If you have leftovers after combining dressing and salad be sure to eat them within two days.
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1905 Salad Recipe
- 1 head iceberg lettuce chopped or shredded
- 2 tomatoes sliced into eighth's
- 2 stalks celery sliced
- 1 cup Swiss cheese cut into julienne strips
- 1 cup ham cut into julienne strips
- ½ cup green Spanish olives pitted, no pimiento
- 2 teaspoons Parmesan cheese can also use Romano cheese
- 1 cup extra-virgin Spanish olive oil or your favorite olive oil
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar can use sherry vinegar or champagne vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons Oregano dried, can substitute with chopped fresh
- 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Prepare the salad
- Combine the chopped lettuce, sliced celery, tomato slices, Swiss cheese, ham, green olives, and Parmesan cheese in a large salad bowl. Toss to combine, and set aside.
Mix the dressing ingredients
- Combine into a small bowl or jar the extra-virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, oregano, and minced garlic. Salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Whisk together, or shake if in jar.
Finish the salad
- Add the dressing to the salad then toss to coat. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container for up to two days.