What food do you refuse to eat? Lima beans? Smelt eggs? Liver? Iceberg lettuce was always a no for me.
As one who values nutrient dense foods, I always wondered why anyone would actually choose to eat this food which has so little nutritional value. Developed in the 40s and popularized in the 50s, iceberg lettuce was created to survive travel without wilting. Because it was transported in trucks filled with ice, it became known as iceberg lettuce. Quickly, iceberg gained a following as the go-to lettuce for salads.
A Food Epiphany
After decades of rejecting this perfectly round head of lettuce, there comes a time in life when we have an epiphany. This epiphany potentially (and hopefully) leads us to overcome certain things or people, including, but not limited to, a disdain for an ingredient.
My epiphany took place a few years ago when I fell hard for the wedge salad at The Palm. This was the wedge that removed the wedge in my antipathy of the wedge. While the wedge is not an everyday salad, it is a special occasion salad that satisfies every single cell of your being. The insane textural appeal, vibrant colors and bold flavors make it, honestly, hard not to love, even for for a salad snob.
Mil Gracias, Bon Appetit
An old chef friend once proclaimed iceberg lettuce is merely a vehicle for consuming copious amounts of blue cheese dressing. While I don’t disagree with this assessment, this little wedge salad recipe featured in Bon Appetit’s June issue is something altogether fresh.
Yes, it’s familiar, but also novel enough that it may change your mind about iceberg lettuce once and for all. This recipe has certainly changed my feelings for the typically uniform and sad head of iceberg lettuce I spent years rejecting and refusing to love.
A Salad That Relies on the Sum of Its Parts
The seriously lemony-sour cream dressing makes this salad sensational. That, along with the addition of creamy chunks of avocado, cool cucumbers, chives and crispy fried shallots. Clearly, this salad heavily depends on the sum of its parts. Individually, the ingredients are mildly exciting, but collectively, stand back!
Crispy iceberg lettuce is sliced into rounds and chopped into large chunks, offering plenty of surface for languishing lots of zesty dressing. Fresh chives provide an herbacious influence. Avocado adds a seriously creamy texture to counter balance the crunchy lettuce. The cool cucumbers add a different and welcome kind of crunch. But the showstopping crispy shallots are the coup de grace that you will want to add to everything you eat from now on. Seriously! The crispy shallots take about 20 minutes to make and zero minutes for them to disappear.
The Iceberg Stance
For those of you who already love iceberg, this salad promises to update your perception and provide a new way to use this outdated lettuce.
For those of you who, like me, have historically said “no thank you” to iceberg, this salad will likely change your mind about this outdated lettuce.
And, for those of you who have no skin in the iceberg game, this salad will probably make you a rabid fan of this outdated lettuce.
Wherever you are on the iceberg spectrum, let’s all agree to splurge on the organic variety! This way, we’ll at least feel better about eating iceberg on a regular basis.
Little Wedge Salad with Crispy Shallots
Iceberg lettuce is making a comeback and this salad may be the reason why. Crispy iceberg lettuce is a perfect vehicle for a deliciously lemony-sour cream dressing. Adding creamy avocado and crispy cucumbers make this salad a tad more nutritional. Fresh chives give an herbacious lift while the crispy fried shallots take it over the top. And I mean over the top! If you're seriously into nutrition and aren't a fan of iceberg, try adding half iceberg and half hearts of Romaine for a winning recipe.
Lemony-Sour Cream Dressing
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic finely minced or grated
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 head organic iceberg lettuce
- 1 Persian cucumber organic
- 1 avocado cut into chunks
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 handful chives chopped into 1" pieces
- 4 big shallots peeled and sliced in rings
- kosher or sea salt for seasoning when cooked
To make the crispy shallots
In a saucepan, add sliced shallots and 1/2 cup vegetable oil and place over medium low heat. It will take about 20 minutes for these shallots to cook thoroughly and get golden brown.
Once fully golden delicious, use a slotted spoon to remove the shallots and place on a plate lined with a paper towel so they drain. Season with salt. Reserve the oil in a container and refrigerate so you can use it again the next time you want to make these crispy shallots.
To make the lemony-sour cream dressing
In a small bowl, stir lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, sour cream and mayo together until well combined. Dressing may be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
To make the salad
Remove end of iceberg lettuce and core, discard any wilted outer leaves and cut lengthwise into quarters. Then cut each quarter into 3" chunks. Without separating the leaves, place chunks onto platter.
Tuck chunked cucumber and avocado pieces among lettuce chunks. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and season with a little salt.
Spoon half of the dressing over the salad and top with freshly cut chives and load it up with crispy shallots. Top with a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately with the remaining dressing alongside, in case some people need more of this sensational and zesty dressing.
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