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.
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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.
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.
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
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).