Come summertime, most of us want foods that somehow manage to satisfy while still seeming light and refreshing. No dish better delivers on both counts than the classic iceberg wedge salad, a retro creation that is all about simplicity. And yet, to be the celebration of flavor and texture that it should, we need to make sure to cut the toppings small and play up contrast in flavor and texture wherever possible.
Why It WorksA simple salad, done right. Read the Whole Story
- Salting the tomato drains excess water, concentrating flavor while seasoning it throughout.
- Crisping the fresh bread crumbs in the rendered bacon fat adds more smoky, porky flavor to the dish.
- Quick-pickling the red onion reduces its harshness while adding a needed bright note to balance the creamy richness of the dressing and meaty bacon.
- 2 small tomatoes (about 8 ounces total), diced
- Kosher salt
- 1 small red onion, minced
- White wine vinegar, for soaking onion (see note above)
- 4 ounces sliced bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 ounces fresh bread crumbs (about 1/2 cup)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 ounces mild blue cheese
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon fresh juice from 1 lemon
- 1 head iceberg lettuce, outer leaves discarded and quartered through core so that each quarter holds together
- Minced chives, for garnish
Set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and add diced tomatoes. Sprinkle liberally with salt, and toss to combine. In a small bowl, add onion and pour enough vinegar on top to cover. Let tomatoes and onions stand while you prep the other ingredients.
In a small skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisped, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. You should have about 2 tablespoons rendered fat in the skillet. Add bread crumbs and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and season liberally with salt and pepper.
In a medium bowl, mash blue cheese with a whisk. Whisk in mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, and lemon juice until a smooth, slightly lumpy dressing forms. Season with pepper (the blue cheese will likely make the dressing salty enough, but taste and add salt if necessary).
Arrange iceberg wedges on plates and spoon dressing on each. Drain quick-pickled onions and sprinkle all over salads, along with drained tomatoes (discard any extracted liquid), bacon, toasted bread crumbs, and chives. Serve.