Napa Cabbage Wedge Salad with Apples and Buttermilk Dressing

October  9, 2014

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. 

Shop the Story

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. 

Napa Cabbage Wedge Salad with Apples and Buttermilk Dressing

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

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photo by Elizabeth Stark

Order now

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).

Order now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Julie @ HostessAtHeart
    Julie @ HostessAtHeart
  • Lisa Blos-Johnson
    Lisa Blos-Johnson
  • Annie stader
    Annie stader
  • Lindsey S. Love | Dolly and Oatmeal
    Lindsey S. Love | Dolly and Oatmeal
  • Sara S.
    Sara S.
Elizabeth Stark, along with her husband Brian Campbell, chronicles her passion for simple, fresh recipes on the award-wining food blog Brooklyn Supper.


Julie @. October 15, 2014
I love the fall twist on this salad!
Elizabeth S. October 16, 2014
Thanks Julie!
Lisa B. October 14, 2014
We tried this the other night and it was great! We did make a slight change and added a shallot to it rather than the red onion. Will make again.
Elizabeth S. October 14, 2014
Hi Lisa, Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing your experience! I love shallots and can imagine that they'd add a great depth of flavor, as well as their trademark zing, to this salad. Really glad to hear you liked it.
Annie S. October 9, 2014
Fresh Napa from the Farmers and just picked up my organic dairy order with buttermilk. I opened this site looking for a salad idea and there you were! Thank you this is perfect.
Elizabeth S. October 10, 2014
Hi Annie, That is so cool. I'll *try* not to be too jealous of your farm fresh buttermilk. Enjoy!
Lindsey S. October 9, 2014
so clever using cabbage as the wedge, as opposed to the ubiquitous iceberg! much love for this recipe, elizabeth!
Elizabeth S. October 10, 2014
Thanks for the kind words Lindsey! I grew up with iceberg as the only lettuce and am just not a fan.
Sara S. October 9, 2014
This looks stunning. Need to make it ASAP.
Elizabeth S. October 10, 2014
Thanks Sara! I hope you get a chance sometime soon. Glad you stopped by!