Bacon

Wedge Salad With All the Fixins

July 13, 2021
1 Rating
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Jessica Faria. Food Stylist: Sam Seneviratne.
Author Notes

A wedge salad is one of those retro dishes that needs no improvement. Add a martini and a shrimp cocktail and I feel like I’m out for a Mad Men–era power lunch (after which I’ll promptly need a power nap, but the meal is totally worth it). Crunchy iceberg lettuce, just-enough-but-not-too-much blue cheese dressing, salty bacon, cherry tomatoes popping like Gushers with each bite. It’s the kind of salad for which you need a knife, fork, and large napkin, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Classic wedge salad obviously needs blue cheese dressing, which is extra rich—necessary, as iceberg is basically water that you can slice and chew—thanks to sour cream and mayo smashed into the cheese. (And by the way, do yourself a favor and don’t buy pre-crumbled cheese ever again. Its more robust flavor is well worth the extra 6 seconds it takes to break apart your own.) At the same time, you’ll welcome tang from lemon juice and buttermilk in the mix to cut through the fat of the dressing and the bacon. Speaking of which, having made this both with and without the bacon, I’ll say the meat is totally unnecessary, and if you’re feeding vegetarians, there’s really no point in turning on the stove for salad—just be a little more heavy-handed with the salt, maybe quickly drizzle over some olive oil when you’re seasoning the lettuce, and everything will be great.

When it comes to serving, you could of course politely dress individual plates with a thick wedge and all the fixins, but I’ve found that 1) this feels a little too retro, bordering on stuffy, and 2) I always want more than one piece, regardless of whether there’s more meal to come. So I prefer to load up a big serving platter with fully dressed wedges and lay it on the table. Some people will have one; others will have three, and it all works out.
Rebecca Firkser

  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 6 minutes
  • Serves 6 to 8
Ingredients
  • Dressing
  • 2 ounces (heaping ¼ cup) blue cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about ½ a lemon)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest (from about ½ a lemon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • Salad Assembly
  • 4 ounces (about 4 slices) cold thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces (optional)
  • 2 large heads (about 2 pound) iceberg lettuce, wilted outer leaves removed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh chives, snipped, for serving
  • Flaky sea salt, for serving
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Dressing
  2. In a medium bowl, use a fork or whisk to smash the blue cheese. Add the mayonnaise and sour cream and whisk together until relatively smooth. Whisk in the 1½ tablespoons lemon juice and 2 tablespoons buttermilk. If you prefer dressing a bit looser, add the remaining tablespoon of buttermilk (I personally like how the thicker version clings to the lettuce). Whisk in the garlic, lemon zest, and black pepper. Season with salt to taste and transfer to the refrigerator while you prep everything else.
  1. Salad Assembly
  2. If using, place the bacon in a cold cast-iron or nonstick skillet. Turn the heat to medium and cook the bacon pieces until crisp, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon pieces to a paper-towel-lined plate. Once cooled, crumble the pieces more if you’d like, or just leave them as is. (Strain any cooled rendered bacon fat from the skillet into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.)
  3. Slice both heads of the iceberg through the core into quarters. Transfer to a large serving platter. Drizzle each wedge with the tablespoon of lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Drizzle a generous spoonful of dressing over each wedge. Scatter tomatoes and bacon bits, if using, over each wedge.
  5. Serve topped with chives, more black pepper, flaky salt, and the remaining dressing on the side.

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Rebecca Firkser is the assigning editor at Food52. She used to wear many hats in the food media world: food writer, editor, assistant food stylist, recipe tester (sometimes in the F52 test kitchen!), recipe developer. Her writing has appeared in TASTE, The Strategist, Eater, and Bon Appetit's Healthyish and Basically. She contributed recipes and words to the book "Breakfast: The Most Important Book About the Best Meal of the Day." Once upon a time, she studied theatre design and art history at Smith College, so if you need a last-minute avocado costume or want to talk about Wayne Thiebaud's cakes, she's your girl. She tests all recipes with Diamond Crystal kosher salt. You can follow her on Instagram @rebeccafirkser.

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