Salad shouldn't be an obligation or an afterthought -- and it doesn't always have to be kale, either. Every other Thursday, Elizabeth Stark from Brooklyn Supper will help you make salads you actually want to eat.
Today: A wedge salad that's actually worth bringing out your knife for.
As a general rule, if salad leaves are chopped, I prefer them bite-sized. I've already gone to the trouble of cutting (or tearing) them once, why bring a knife back into the mix once I'm at the table? A quick look around the internet shows I'm not alone. Those in favor of eating salads with knives are outnumbered by advocates of just diving in their with hands. But even a fork-only stalwart like me can see the appeal of the occasional wedge salad. As long as we observe a basic level of table manners, we should all be free to tackle a plate of vegetables however we see fit.
More: Brush up on your basic table manners.
And there is something incredibly satisfying about digging into a triangular slab of lettuce. Or cabbage. In this case, I went with Napa cabbage, cut into wedges. While green and purple storage varieties will be kicking around until spring, Napa cabbage has a short spring season and then peaks in the fall. The combination of a crisp, pleasantly watery bite, a hint of spice, and the robust cabbage-y flavor makes Napa quite the treat. Here, it's paired with sliced apples, fresh from a trip to the orchard, and thinly sliced red onions. A rich buttermilk and Parmesan dressing marries all those pronounced flavors for a balanced (and super crunchy) fall salad.
Since a proper wedge salad is all about presentation, you'll want a creamy dressing that's up to the job. To ensure the dressing is thick enough, add each ingredient one at a time, and whisk vigorously to maintain emulsion.
Serves 4 to 6
For the buttermilk Parmesan dressing:
1 clove garlic, smashed and minced
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 to 3 tablespoons buttermilk
2 tablespoons finely crumbled or shredded Parmesan
For the Napa cabbage wedge salad:
1/2 head Napa cabbage
1/2 red onion
2 crisp apples (Honeycrisp, Fuji, and Braeburn are all favorites)
2 tablespoons crumbled Parmesan, plus a few bits for crumbling over finished salad
1 tablespoon minced chives
Sea salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Photo by Elizabeth Stark