Last night I made what instantly became a Salad Legend in our kitchen: A wedge salad with bacon, chia seeds, ranch dressing,and the main attraction, roasted grape tomatoes.
I seldom give either sauteed onions OR bacon second billing to anything, yet here they BOTH are, playing second fiddle to the humble, miniature grape tomato.
Wedge Salads: Iceberg Lettuce’s Call in Life
For a great wedge salad, you have to start with a fresh, crisp, clean, beautiful head of iceberg lettuce. Cut it into fourths and salt it a little under, over, around, and through. Iceberg lettuce has a shy flavor, you have to coax it out with a little salt.
Place your wedges on a plate and pour either Ranch Dressing or Blue Cheese Dressing on top – be generous.
Now, add your favorite toppings. You can choose from..
- crumbled, cooked bacon (or bacon bits if you’re in a hurry or don’t want to mess up a skillet)
- chopped tomatoes (grape or cherry tomatoes – roasted or not – are ideal for wedge salads)
- green onions
- crumbled Blue Cheese or Feta
- sauteed onions
- roasted vegetables
- roasted corn (YUM!)
- Chia seeds
- sunflower seeds
A wedge salad can be as quick and easy or as elaborate as you want it to be.
The wedge salad pictured at the top (and at the bottom of the post) involved a little more time to make than the average wedge salad, but when it comes to sauteed onions and roasted tomatoes, I have all the time in the world.
How to Roast Grape Tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the grape (or cherry) tomatoes and place them in a bowl. Drizzle them with olive oil, then season them with Kosher Salt. Depending upon your preference AND depending upon what you’ll be eating at this particular meal, you could also drizzle a little Balsamic Vinegar on top of the tomatoes.
There are endless herb possibilities, too, but for this wedge salad, I just wanted to taste the roasted tomatoes… nothing but them in all their glory.
Large tomatoes or Roma tomatoes generally take upward of 30 minutes to roast, but the little guys don’t take quite as long. Grape (or cherry) tomatoes usually begin to caramelize in about 20 minutes. You’ll want to take them out and give them a quick little flip about halfway through the cooking time.
Don’t let the dark color rattle you. As cooks, when something turns dark, it usually means a trip to the garbage can, followed by another trip to the store – but when roasting vegetables, you want the darkness… that’s where the flavor is.
A word about roasting – I don’t want to venture too far off the beaten path here, but roasting vegetables is a woefully underrated and underused way of enjoying sides. Most vegetables can be roasted using the same approach I described above – most simply need more time under the heat. Roasting vegetables brings out the flavor like few things ever could. Experiment with oils, seasonings, and even vinegars to mix things up.
Pan roasting on the stove-top (simply putting food into a hot skillet briefly) is a great way to bring out the deep, intense flavors of spices and herbs. Just keep an eye on them, they’ll burn fast.
Dressings for Wedge Salads
It’s been my experience that most people use Blue Cheese Dressing with their Wedge Salads but, for whatever reasons, I am not a fan of blue cheese or blue cheese dressing. However, if you are, by all means, go for it!
I favor Ranch and will either make my own, use Hidden Valley Ranch packets to whip one up, or will go with a favorite brand of Ranch Salad Dressing. Kraft, Hidden Valley, and Newman’s Own have great Ranch dressings. When it comes to dressing, I do prefer to make my own and, during the warmer months, I often have at least one made up at all times. During the colder months, when we aren’t having salads quite as often, I’ll turn to bottled dressing.
Topping Things Off
To finish off the presentation beautifully, and tastefully, add crumbled cheese (blue, mozzarella, or feta), bacon, snipped parsley or chives, sunflower seeds, salt, pepper, and/or chia seeds. Just find the combo that makes you smile.
**** If you have to eat gluten free, always check everything you put on your plate and into your mouth. Never “assume” salad dressings, bacon bits, and all salad toppings are gluten free. Make sure the label says “gluten free.”