So then there's Iceberg Lettuce. There was a time when it ruled the roost of the salad world, but with the introduction of all those fancy greens and boutique lettuces, it's safe to say the salad days are all but over for Iceberg. People consider Iceberg bland and unexciting, and if you shred it up and toss it in the old salad, it pretty much is. Flavor-wise, it's about as exciting as tap water.
However, what is lost on many people these days is that the beauty of Iceberg is not in its flavor, but in its texture. Left whole, or at least in large pieces, Iceberg has a wonderful crunch that is simply delightful, and in this usage it provides an nice and neutral vehicle to deliver other flavors to your taste buds.
The pièce de résistance of Iceberg implementation is definitely the wedge salad. This salad was a big deal back in the fancy restaurant days of the 40s and 50s, but somehow, it disappeared from menus for a few decades. Thankfully, it's making a comeback, and I couldn't be happier. It truly is wonderful, dripping with bacon and rich blue cheese dressing, and it finally lets the much maligned Iceberg come into its own. Here's my version.
First, the dressing:
Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing
1 Small Shallot, Minced
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
1 Tablespoon White Wine Vinegar
1/2 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
4 oz Standard Blue Cheese, Crumbled
4 oz Maytag Blue Cheese, Crumbled (or something even more bold, like Roquefort or Stilton
Note, we're using two different blue cheeses in this appellation--the milder of the two is blended in the dressing itself, the more bold is sprinkled on afterwards.
Dice your shallot and add it to a mixing bowl. Add the Buttermilk, Mayo, Sour Cream, Vinegar, Worcestershire, and pepper.
Blend this with a whisk until smooth and well combined.
Crumble your blue cheese (the milder of the two) into small, coarse pieces.
Add this to the buttermilk mixture.
Whisk until just combined, then one minute more to dissolve some, but not all, of the blue cheese pieces.
Place in a jar and place this jar covered in the fridge for an hour or two to allow the flavors to meld.
Now, for the salad wedge:
1 Head Iceberg Lettuce
4 Strips of Bacon, Fried Crisp and Coarsely Crumbled
1-2 Teaspoons Fresh Chives, Minced
Several Plum or Cherry Tomatoes, Some Diced, Some Whole
Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing, as outlined above
The secret to making a good wedge salad starts with the cut. If you're making four salads you might be tempted to slice the head half top to bottom, through the stalk.
Then you could slice this in half and have four wedges. The problem with this cut is it is rather unattractive, and everybody gets part of the unappetizing stalk.
The solution, slice the head through it's equator, cutting off the top.
Then cut the top in half for two perfect wedges.
If you need more, just get more Iceberg heads. The base can be discarded, or if you're really frugal, reserved for other uses like sandwiches or whatnot.
Now that you've got your prefect wedges, drizzle them liberally with the buttermilk dressing. Sprinkle the crumbled bacon, chives and diced tomatoes on top of this. Dress it with a few whole tomatoes and a side of extra dressing and you're done.
Serve with both a knife and a fork for this one.
Until next time,
May the Wedge be with you!