Jul 23, 2020

Classic Wedge Salad with Buttermilk Herb Dressing

Prep Time: 15 mins
The reasoning behind the name of this retro-inspired salad is fairly self-explanatory - a head of crisp iceberg lettuce is cut into quarters or wedges and topped with a homemade creamy buttermilk herb dressing, crumbled bacon bits, tomatoes and blue cheese.

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The reasoning behind the name of this retro-inspired classic wedge salad (sometimes called a blue cheese salad) is fairly self-explanatory a head of crisp iceberg lettuce is cut into quarters or wedges and topped with a homemade creamy buttermilk herb dressing, crumbled bacon bits, tomatoes and blue cheese. I love serving this steakhouse-classic as a side dish with cast-iron seared or grilled cowboy ribeye steak. Another protein like chicken is another great option.

Wedge Salad with Buttermilk Herb Dressing

What is a Classic Wedge Salad?

While this style of serving salads in wedges traces as far back as ancient times, it gained popularity in the US in the 1950s and 1960s in a time of Manhattan power-lunch meetings à la “Mad Men”. This is around the time that bacon bits and blue cheese crumbles were added to the salad. It has since become a steakhouse staple. When creating recipes with very few, simple ingredients, I always opt to buy the highest quality ingredients available.

Wedge Salad with Herb Buttermilk Dressing and steak-11.jpg

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Bacon – In this case it is most important to buy good bacon and blue cheese. I like thick cut bacon cooked in a pan so the fat renders slowly, allowing for the bacon to crisp up evenly.
  • Blue cheese –  Blue veined cheese have a characteristic sharp, salty flavor. They complement the buttermilk dressing and salty, crispy bacon. If you aren’t a big fan of blue cheeses try this recipe with Gorgonzola dolce, which is a young, milder and creamy variety of the cheese.
  • Buttermilk – The typical American buttermilk is low-fat. It also has a rich, tangy flavor and a texture more similar to sour cream or yogurt than cream or milk.
  • Iceberg lettuce – Iceberg lettuce also called crisphead lettuce looks similar to cabbage though the leaves are much more tender and watery. I recommend peeling back the outer leaves of the head of iceberg and discarding them before you cut it into wedges.
This retro/classic salad with iceberg lettuce cut into wedges is topped with buttermilk herb dressing, bacon bits, tomatoes and blue cheese.

How to Make a Classic Wedge Salad

  1. Make the buttermilk dressing. In a medium mixing bowl whisk the buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise, parsley, chives, basil, dill and garlic until completely combined. Season to taste with salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. The dressing can be made up to a week in advance. 
  2. Cook the bacon. Add the bacon to a medium sauté pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and golden brown, about 7 minutes. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. 
  3. Assemble and serve. Cut the head of iceberg lettuce into 4 equal quarters. Add one wedge of lettuce to each plate, spoon about 3 tablespoons of the dressing over each wedge then top with cherry tomatoes, bacon, chives and black pepper. 
Wedge Salad with Herb Buttermilk Dressing and steak-71.jpg

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe

Other Dressing Options

While I love this buttermilk herb dressing for this recipe, these other dressings make great alternatives over the iceberg wedges:

Swaps and Substitutions
  • Try adding some diced red onion or avocado to this salad.
  • If you aren’t a fan of blue cheese you can swap the blue cheese crumbles with shaved Parmesan cheese or a sprinkle of feta.
  • Omit the bacon for a vegetarian version of the salad.
How Do You Cut a Wedge Salad?

While this type of salad can seem intimidating to cut into, I recommend serving it with a sharp knife for easy cutting. Since this salad is typically served alongside steak it should be easy.

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this classic wedge salad recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Wedge Salad with Buttermilk Herb Dressing

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Prep Time 15 mins

Ingredients:

For the buttermilk herb dressing:

  • ½ cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chopped dill leaves
  • 1 clove chopped garlic
  • Kosher salt, as needed

For the salad:

  • ½ pound thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, cut into ½”-wide strips 
  • 1 medium head iceberg lettuce
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 teaspoon diced chives, for garnish

Instructions:

For the buttermilk herb dressing:

  • In a medium mixing bowl whisk the buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise, parsley, chives, basil, dill and garlic until completely combined. Season with salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. The dressing can be made up to a week in advance. 

For the salad:

  • Add the bacon to a medium sauté pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and golden brown, about 7 minutes. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. 
  • Cut the head of iceberg lettuce into 4 equal quarters. Add one wedge of lettuce to each plate, spoon about 3 tablespoons of the dressing over each wedge then top with cherry tomatoes, bacon, chives and black pepper. 

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