In the salad world, wedge salads deliver the greatest profit with the least amount of effort. There are few things easier. Quarter a head of iceberg lettuce, top with a favorite dressing and puff up with a few toppings. Done. It rides on every plate and always brings the drama. And as much as I love a wedge salad, I love a grilled wedge salad even more. Add a minute or so to the grill before serving, and you have a beautiful grilled wedge to serve with whatever comes off your grill, like tofu burgers or grilled versions of your favorite tartine. My version contains a not shy, spicy ranch dressing along with pine nuts and lots of chives.
How to cut a wedge salad
I just want to highlight this because it's one of the few ways this recipe could go south on you. Quarter each head of lettuce through the stem. The core helps hold each wedge together. Take a look at the photos if this is confusing. Basically it is a no to cut the lettuce “around the equator”. Cut off less than beautiful leaves on the outside.
The Keys to Grilling Wedge Salad
The key to the perfect grilled salad lies in the organization and the right temperature of the grill. You want a relatively hot grill. On a hot grill, your salad will quickly get all the grilling quality where it touches the grid, but the core stays nice and crisp and structured. My grill has a temperature gauge. I heat it to 400F, quickly place the wedges of lettuce, cut side down, over the hottest areas and leave them there for 30-45 seconds. This is long enough for some color to take on. Then quickly (and carefully) turn each wedge onto its second cut side, grill for another 30-45 seconds and boom, done. Get them off the grill ASAP. If you're grilling all sorts of other things, the wedges go on last.
Add a flavorful element to your dressing
You have a certain amount of leeway here! I made this flavorful ranch dressing using a range of flavorful ingredients, and sriracha, curry paste, and salsa negra all work great. The version shown here was created with Sriracha. Or you can skip the sharp point entirely, it's entirely up to you.
Wedge salad variations and toppings
There are a thousand different directions you can take a wedge salad like this one. I'm going to throw out a few ideas, but if you have your own favorite please leave it in the comments!
- Wedge salad with turmeric buttermilk dressing: This was a favorite version. Skip the spicy in this recipe and substitute 1/4 teaspoon of ground turmeric. It gives the dressing a nice yellow vibrancy and is a delicious exchange. I like this variant with toasted almond slices for the crispy component.
- Classic wedge salad: You can skip the grill entirely. Lots of people like some kind of blue cheese dressing here, but when I eat iceberg wedges I go for ranch or some other creamy buttermilk dressing.
- Topping ideas: I love small croutons here. Large ones tend to slide straight off the wedge, while smaller ones get stuck in the cracks and crevices. Roasted tomatoes are A + as a finish, they blend in with the dressing and it's omg good. Tiny cubes of avocado are great, as is a pinch of chopped olives. Breadcrumbs are also a win – especially garlicky ones. I've added some pretty home grown chive flowers here along with the chives for a little more flavor and beauty.
Have fun grilling! -H
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