Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Iconic Wedge Salad


     Ask Dear Daughter what kind of greens we typically have in our refrigerator and she will tell you, "arugula".  If asked to bring a salad to a family event, everyone knows that I made it because it is some variation of an Arugula Salad.  I use it on my sandwiches, sprinkle it on my pizza, serve it on my charcuterie board and even prefer it to basil in my pesto.  I have grown my own arugula and am proud to call myself an Arugula fanatic!

     Think back to when most of us were kids.  What kind of greens did we have in the fridge?  It definitely wasn't arugula nor was it even romaine.  The staple in our household and in many others was the round head of iceberg lettuce.  We shredded it for our tacos, peeled off leaves for BLTs and drenched it in thousand island dressing for our salads.  

      Smithsonian Magazine published an article in 2013 entitled, "Tip of the Iceberg:  Our Love-Hate Relationship with the Nation's Blandest Veggie."  Isn't that what we have with iceberg...almost a secret love-hate relationship.  I cringe when Dear Daughter makes a salad for lunch with iceberg.  "It has no nutritional value," I will exclaim.  Yet, I will reach for it first when dressing my hamburger.  
     Crisphead lettuce, as it was originally called, was a technological breakthrough in food creation.  Introduced commercially in the 1940s, it could actually survive cross country travel.  Before the invention of the refrigerated train car, piles of ice were packed on the pale green lettuce heads and transported from California to parts all across the country, giving it its current moniker, Iceberg.  Back in the day, unless you grew your own, it was THE lettuce.  It was the ONLY lettuce.  

     As we evolved and more options became available, iceberg fell out of favor.  Containing nearly 90% water, it has a fraction of the vitamins as its dark leafy cousins.  But there a sudden resurgence?  Dear Husband returned from a recent business trip indicating that his dinner partner at a fancy DC steakhouse had recently ordered the Iceberg Wedge.  Well, it is DC and it is a steakhouse.  Perhaps, it was just a fluke.  

     Who knows for sure but the idea of the Iceberg Wedge was planted in my head.  Not long after, I was consumed with perfecting the Iceberg Wedge.  No commercially purchased dressing; only the best bacon, Maytag Blue or Roquefort...those were my most pressing matters.

     Don't be embarrassed.  You secretly love the cool crunch of iceberg.  You love its blandness, which allows other flavors to shine while it lends a certain texture.  Go out today and proudly buy a head of iceberg lettuce.  Celebrate your childhood!  Shred it for some tacos.  Put in on your tuna salad sandwich.  Better yet...make this Iconic Wedge Salad.


Iceberg Wedge Salad

Iceberg Wedge Salad

Dressing Ingredients:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 T Worcestershire
1 1/2 T chopped chives
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles

Combine the first four ingredients until creamy.  Fold in the chives and blue cheese crumbles.  Season with salt and pepper.

For the salad:
Iceberg lettuce
Bacon, cooked and crumbled
additional blue cheese crumbles
Freshly grated pepper


Cut the iceberg into wedges and place on salad plates.  Spoon dressing over top of wedges.  Sprinkle with bacon and blue cheese crumbles.  Add a bit of freshly grated pepper to taste.

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