Every so often we all crave a loaded iceberg wedge salad. You know, the ones piled high with blue cheese dressing and bacon crumbles? Also known as a steakhouse wedge salad, because it’s practically a requirement to have one on the menu of every beef-centric, sides a-la-carte restaurant in this nation, this beloved iceberg lettuce recipe is the hedonistic, in-your-face, ANTI-SALAD. No one, myself included, would tout an iceberg lettuce salad as healthy, certainly not one loaded with ingredients that come from the tippy-top of the food pyramid, but the one thing you can’t deny is HOW GOOD IT IS!
The classic iceberg wedge
Iceberg lettuce salads were practically the only salads I remember from my childhood. My Mom would make her signature vinaigrette and add some cut tomatoes and cucumber to her iceberg lettuce recipe… et voilà! All through the 70’s, iceberg was king. It was cheap, crunchy and while it wasn’t exactly a nutritional powerhouse, it was still lettuce. It wasn’t until the 80’s, that “mixed baby greens” or “mesclun” became a “thing”… but that’s another story, er… salad.
Mandatory components of a wedge salad
- Iceberg Lettuce
- Crumbled Bacon
- Diced Tomatoes
- Blue Cheese Dressing
- Blue Cheese Crumbles
- Hard Boiled Egg
There are other optional ingredients you can certainly use in this salad, but these are the MUST-HAVES. Personally, I like a bit of avocado and some grated carrot for color and crunch. These additions make me feel a smidge better about diving into this nutritionally deficient, but absolutely OUTSTANDING iceberg wedge salad.
Croutons for steakhouse wedge salad
You’re probably thinking, “Croutons? No big deal, I’ll pick some at the store.”
Don’t. Do. It. You deserve better.
Here’s my beef with store-bought croutons. They’re big — too big. And pointy-square (have you ever had a crouton rip the skin off the roof of your mouth? I have.) Plus, you might get 5 or 6 croutons on a whole iceberg wedge salad serving — which means you’ve got a whole lot of bites that are DEFICIENT, if not downright DEVOID of croutons. That’s unacceptable.
My method ensures tasty, crunchy croutons in every bite that won’t rip the flesh from the roof of your mouth.
Best bread for croutons:
You can use any sturdy, country or sourdough bread, preferably one that’s a little stale. I do have a favorite — it’s Trader Joe’s sandwich sourdough in the blue and white package. Note: I actually don’t think this is a very good bread for sandwiches or toast, but for this express purpose, it’s perfect. Most fresh bakery breads are too soft and turn quickly to crumbs in a food processor. Trader Joe’s sourdough produces ideal small to medium, uneven shreds of bread that, when toasted in the oven, are the perfect accent to any salad, but especially an inspired steakhouse wedge salad like this. And yes, you’ll get bits of crispy golden croutons in every bite.
You’ll want to prep all the ingredients BEFORE you start assembling your salads. Trust me, you don’t want to be frying bacon when everyone’s got a wedge of iceberg in front of them…
- Make the Croutons
- Fry the Bacon
- Make the Blue Cheese Dressing
- Cook and Chop or Sieve the Eggs
- Chop the Tomatoes
- Dice the Onions
- Shred the Carrots
- Quarter the Iceberg Lettuce and Remove the Core
- Don’t Chop The Avocado Until You’re Ready to Serve (you don’t want it oxidizing before you top the salad.)
How to cook and sieve a hard boiled egg
This might seem superfluous and I’ll preface it by saying, you absolutely DO NOT NEED TO DO THIS, but I think this is a great way to get very fine — even fluffy — minced egg to top a steakhouse wedge salad. It turns hard boiled eggs to the consistency of couscous. I know, it’s kind of a geeky, you spend too much time alone in your kitchen method, but if your bored, give it a go.
- Hard boil an egg, by bringing a small pan of water to a boil, adding the egg and cooking for 6 minutes. Drain the water & rinse with cold water to stop the cooking and cool the egg enough so you can handle it.
- Crack the shell and remove it.
- Place the egg in a mesh sieve and using the back of a spoon (or your clean fingers, press the egg through the sieve, scraping the outside of the sieve as the egg is pressed through. Continue in this method until all of the egg has passed through the mesh.
Assemble the iceberg wedge salad
Assemble the iceberg lettuce recipe for a group all at once and bring them out on a platter or individual plates to serve — or set up a wedge salad bar, with all the ingredients laid out for everyone to help themselves. I prefer to plate them all before serving, but if you have any picky eaters, you may be better off letting them help themselves.
Tips on assembly:
- Dollop the dressing over the iceberg lettuce wedge first, before adding any other ingredients. It’ll help the rest of the goodies STICK. Some toppings will still fall pell-mell down the slope of greens, but at least with a hearty dollop of blue cheese dressing, they stand a better chance of clinging to the peak of lettuce.
- Don’t overdo it on any of the toppings. Yes, I know you like bacon, but trust me, all of these ingredients interplay so well together in this iceberg lettuce recipe, you’ll want equal parts of everything. I promise, you can have bacon for breakfast…
You should have seen the look on my husband’s face when I brought these Steakhouse Wedge Salads to the table for dinner. It was simultaneous joy and disbelief. “I haven’t had a wedge salad since the last time I went to a steakhouse — and how many years ago was that?” as he sprinkled on more croutons and blue cheese. “We should definitely do this more often,” he muffled in between bites. I concur. It’s an indulgence, but worth every calorie.
More classic salad recipes:
- Tangy Friseé Lardons Salad
- Summer Strawberry Poppyseed Salad
- Spinach Bacon and Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette
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Classic Steakhouse Wedge Salad
- 2 slices sourdough bread crusts removed
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
FOR WEDGE SALAD:
- 1 head iceberg lettuce
- 4 strips bacon
- 1/2 medium carrot grated
- 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes quartered
- 1/3 cup red onion finely minced
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup blue cheese dressing
- 1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
- 1 ripe Haas avocado peeled and diced
FOR THE CROUTONS:
- Preheat the oven to 325°.
- Tear the bread into smallish chunks and put them in a mini food processor. Pulse several times until you have medium sized shreds and crumbles of bread (the more stale the bread, the better for pulsing into uneven shards).
- Transfer the bread to a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and oregano and toss to coat. Spread the bread evenly onto the pan and bake for 8 minutes. Stir the bread and return to the oven for an additional 8 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are light brown and very crispy. Set aside to cool.
FOR THE SALAD:
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil. When the water is boiling add the eggs and cook for 6 minutes. Drain the water and rinse the eggs with cold water to stop the cooking. When the eggs are cool enough to handle, remove the shells and either finely dice the egg, or sieve it through a mesh sieve by adding the egg to the sieve and pressing firmly on it with the back of a spoon until it's forced through the the tiny holes (note, this takes a little elbow grease). Scrape the egg off of the back of the sieve and transfer to a bowl.
- While the croutons are toasting and egg is cooking, chop the bacon into 1/2" pieces. Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the bacon to the skillet and fry, stirring occasionally until crispy and golden. Transfer the bacon to a dish lined with paper towels to soak up the excess fat. Set aside.
- Remove any wilted or discolored leaves from the outside of the lettuce. Cut the iceberg lettuce into quarters through the core. Turn each quarter onto a flat side and trim the tough core from each piece.
- Place each wedge of lettuce onto individual plates or one large platter. Divide the blue cheese dressing over each iceberg lettuce wedge. Sprinkle each with tomatoes, grated carrot, red onions, blue cheese crumbles, bacon, egg and avocado. Add a few tablespoons of toasted croutons to each salad and serve.