In the salad world wedge salads deliver the most payoff for the least amount of effort. There are few things simpler. Cut a head of iceberg lettuce into quarters, top with a favorite dressing, and flare it out with a few toppings. Done. It rides high on any 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 on the grill before dressing and you have a gorgeous grilled wedge that you can serve alongside whatever else is coming off your grill, for example tofu burgers, or grilled versions of your favorite tartine. My version features 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 is one of the few ways this recipe could go south on you. Cut each head of lettuce into quarters through the stem. The core will help keep each wedge together. Take a glance at the photos if this is confusing. Basically, cutting the lettuce “around the equator” is a no. Trim any less than beautiful leaves from the outside.
The Keys to Grilling Wedge Salad
The key to perfect grilled lettuce is being organized and having the grill at the right temperature. You want a relatively hot grill. On a hot grill your lettuce quickly gets all the grill goodness where it touches the grate, but the core stays nice and crisp and structured. My grill has a temperature gauge on it. I heat it to 400F, quickly arrange the lettuce wedges cut side down across the hottest zones and leave them there for 30-45 seconds. This is long enough to take on some color. Then quickly (and carefully) turn each wedge onto its second cut side, grill another 30-45 seconds and boom, you’re done. Get them off the grill as soon as possible. If you’re grilling all sorts of other stuff, the wedges go on last.
Adding a Spicy Element to your Dressing
You have some latitude here! I’ve made this spicy ranch dressing with a range of spicy ingredients, and sriracha, curry paste, and salsa negra all work great. The version you see pictured here was made with sriracha. Or you can skip the spicy altogether, it’s completely your call.
Wedge Salad Variations and Toppings
There are a thousand different directions you can take a wedge salad like this. I’m going to throw out some 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 ground turmeric. It lends a beautiful yellow vibrancy to the dressing and it’s a delicious swap. I like this version with toasted almond slices for the crunchy component.
- Classic Wedge Salad: You can skip the grill altogether. A lot of people like some sort of blue cheese dressing here, but if I’m going to go iceberg wedge, I’m going to opt for ranch or other creamy buttermilk dressing.
- Topping ideas: I love tiny croutons here. Big ones tend to slide right off the wedge whereas smaller ones get lodged in the cracks and crevices. Roasted tomatoes are A+ as a finishing touch, they meld with the dressing and it’s omg good. Tiny cubes of avocado are great, as is a sprinkling of minced olives. Breadcrumbs are also a win - especially extra garlicky ones. I added some pretty home grown chive blossoms here along with the chives for some extra flavor and prettiness.
Happy grilling! -h
Grilled Wedge Salad with Spicy Ranch Dressing
When I run low on Champagne vinegar, apple cider vinegar is a good swap here. Also, if you want to thin the dressing a bit, add an extra splash of the buttermilk. You can also use other sturdy lettuces in place of the iceberg called for here, Romaine and heads of little gems are good alternatives..
- 1/2 cup / 100g sour cream
- 1/2 cup / 100g buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling
- 2 teaspoons Champagne vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons minced chives, plus more for serving
- 1 tablespoon sriracha, curry paste, or salsa negra
- 1-2 medium heads of iceberg lettuce
- for serving: crunchy kale chips, toasted nuts
Combine the sour cream, buttermilk, olive oil, vinegar, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, chives, and sriracha in a jar. Stir until well combined.
Prep your grill by getting it nice and hot. Cut the iceberg lettuce into quarters through the core and stem - this way they hold together. Brush each wedge with a generous amount of olive oil, and get ready to put them on the grill. It will go fast, so don’t walk away. Quickly arrange the lettuce wedges cut side down across the hottest zones of your grill. Leave them there for 30-45 seconds, or long enough to take on some color. Then, quickly (and carefully) turn each wedge onto its second cut side, for another 30-45 seconds, remove quickly onto individual plates or a family-style platter.
Serve drizzled with the dressing and lots of crushed kale chips, toasted nuts (pine nuts and pistachios pictured here), and you can never have enough chives. You'll likely have plenty of leftover dressing, it keeps, refrigerated, for 4-5 days.
Serves 4 - 8