Classic Wedge Salad

By Ann Fulton

Crisp, cold, and loaded with flavor, a well-constructed wedge salad complements virtually any meal and can BE the meal - just add a protein.
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Crisp, cold, and loaded with flavor, a well-constructed wedge salad complements virtually any meal – and can be the meal with the addition of a favorite protein.

 

If I could count the number of times Jack has ordered a wedge salad at a restaurant, it would be an impressive number.

Serving this salad at home is a sure way to make his day. Over the past few years, I’ve also begun serving a platter full of wedges when entertaining, and they have been a consistent hit with kids and adults alike. 

The crowd-pleasing salad is simple to prepare with basic ingredients and offers a good bit of flexibility. The wedge salad is economical too, and the recipe can be scaled to accommodate any number of diners.

The size of the individual wedges can also be scaled up or down depending on desired portion size. Restaurants tend to serve enormous wedges (often a quarter of a head of iceberg), but when entertaining, I like to plate somewhat thinner wedges on a platter. Guests can then easily serve themselves a more reasonable portion as part of a broader meal.

Of course, Jack will tell you that the big wedges make an ideal complete meal when a protein like steak, chicken, shrimp, or salmon is added. And I would agree!

Crisp, cold, and loaded with flavor, a well-constructed wedge salad complements virtually any meal and can BE the meal - just add a protein.

Beyond the iceberg, crisp bacon, sweet tomatoes, and a dusting of minced red onion are the standard complements. I like to add minced hard boiled egg, and avocado when I have it.

A sprinkle of fresh chives, crunchy croutons, and a hearty grind of black pepper are fine options too. Corn has even made it onto our wedge salads. If you think of something else that would taste good, by all means try it. (And report back!)

A note on iceberg, which many of us tend to overlook these days in favor of “fancier” greens. It may not be the nutritional powerhouse that kale is, but iceberg is rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and folate, and its high water content makes it good source of hydration.

Iceberg is also a great “bridge” food for those who don’t love vegetables and is an excellent way to introduce leafy greens to kids. Who can resist its cool, crisp crunch?

Creamy, tangy, and simple to make at home, Classic Blue Cheese Dressing is perfect on your favorite salads and as a dip for veggies and wings.

A homemade blue cheese dressing that’s thick and creamy yet chunky and with the right balance of tangy-funky flavor is the crowning touch on a wedge salad. My classic recipe is quick to prepare, although you could certainly use a store-bought version. In that case, I recommend something from the refrigerated section. 

Prefer ranch dressing? Follow the option for an herby blue cheese dressing (in the recipe’s notes section) or use Small Batch Ranch Dressing instead, scaling the small batch recipe up as needed. Alternatively, a creamy Parmesan peppercorn dressing would taste great too.

How to pick a good head of iceberg lettuce:

  • Most importantly, the head should feel heavy for its size.
  • The leaves should look crisp and the head should feel firm.
  • Avoid heads that look wilted or discolored.
  • Look at the stem end. The fresher the cut, the better. The darker brown the cut end is, the more time has passed since it was harvested.

How to cut a head of iceberg lettuce for a wedge salad:

  • Start with a full head of iceberg lettuce. Remove and discard the outer leaves, which are often slightly wilted or dirty.
  • Cut the head of lettuce in half, from the top through the stem end. Then cut each half in half again, so you have four quarters.
  • For a fresh look, trim the stem, keeping enough in tact to hold the leaves together.
  • For eight smaller servings, cut each quarter in half again. Alternatively, instead of cutting into quarters, you cut each half into thirds for six mid-size servings.
Crisp, cold, and loaded with flavor, a well-constructed wedge salad complements virtually any meal and can BE the meal - just add a protein.

The wedge salads are pictured here with Roasted Carrots with Za’atar, Soy Glazed Mushrooms (recipe coming soon), and Cold Pan Seared Steaks.

What to serve with a wedge salad? A natural pairing with steak, burgers, chicken, shrimp, portobello mushrooms, and virtually anything off the grill, the wedge salads need only a protein to create a full meal. But when you are serving a larger crowd and would like a broader menu, the following meal plans (and the photo above) provide inspiration and the ability to pick and choose:

 

Enjoy croutons? The following two are my family’s top picks. Both are utterly snack-worthy, with the polenta croutons being especially unique: 

Best way to prepare bacon? I love hands-off this oven method, which makes it easy to evenly crisp the bacon. Plus, the cleanup is as simple as crumpling the foil. 

Crisp, cold, and loaded with flavor, a well-constructed wedge salad complements virtually any meal and can BE the meal - just add a protein.

Beyond its crisp crunch and great flavor, the beauty of this salad recipe rests in its endless flexibility. The portion size is easy to adjust based on how thickly you cut the wedges, and you can add more or less toppings to taste. Easy to make for one or two people, and a wedge salad platter is a guaranteed hit when entertaining.

I’d love to know if you try this recipe. Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @fountainavenuekitchen on Instagram and Facebook. Your feedback is always appreciated.

Classic Wedge Salad
Total Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 4-8 servings (recipe easy to scale as needed)
Beyond its crisp crunch and great flavor, the beauty of this salad recipe rests in its endless flexibility. The portion size is easy to adjust based on how thickly you cut the wedges, and you can add more or less toppings to taste. Easy to make for one or two people, and a wedge salad platter is a guaranteed hit when entertaining.
Ingredients
  • 1 large head iceberg lettuce (Tip: should feel heavy for its size)
  • Classic Blue Cheese Dressing (may substitute Ranch Dressing)
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (LINK)
  • 1½ cups cherry tomatoes, quartered (or 1½ cups diced vine-ripened tomatoes)
  • ¼ cup minced red onion
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
  • Optional: 2-3 hard boiled eggs, minced*; 1 avocado, diced; croutons; 1-2 tablespoons minced fresh chives; freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Before you start: You can scale this recipe to serve one person or many, and feel free to add more or less toppings to taste. The recipe provides an excellent framework, but you may “eyeball” if preferred.

Prepare the lettuce: Remove the outer leaves of the lettuce, and then cut the head of lettuce into quarters. For smaller servings, slice the quarters in half again to form 8 wedges. Or slice the halves into thirds to form 6 wedges. Slice the end to remove the stem.

Plate and top the wedges: Place the wedges on individual plates (or on a large platter for a buffet) and drizzle with some of the blue cheese dressing – I start with about a tablespoon per wedge. Sprinkle the wedges with the crumbled bacon, tomatoes, onions, optional ingredients of choice, and finally the blue cheese crumbles. Season with black pepper, if desired, and serve with additional dressing on the side.

Notes

*I like to mince the eggs (putting them through an egg slicer three times, rotating the egg each time, makes an even mince really easy), but you can chop them or cut into wedges as preferred.

Adjusting the servings: The recipe specifies 4 or 8 servings, but you could cut the lettuce in half, and then cut each half into thirds for 6 servings – or make whatever number you need. You may also adjust the toppings, adding more or less of any of them, according to preference.

Make it a complete meal: Add a protein like steak, chicken, salmon, or shrimp.

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