A few weeks ago, while having lunch out with a friend, I ordered a classic Iceberg lettuce wedge salad. This is not the kind of salad that I would ordinarily order...most of the time, I wouldn't even order a separate salad course for lunch...but here in Kansas City we were in the middle of Restaurant Week. During Restaurant Week, participating restaurants offer limited choice, multi-course, prix fixe lunch and dinner menus. For this one week, the prix fixe price is much lower than it would normally be. Restaurant week gives the participating establishments a great opportunity to draw in new clients for whom they can hopefully really strut their stuff.
For my lunch on this particular occasion, when faced with my first course options, the lettuce wedge salad seemed to be the more appealing choice (which honestly doesn't say much for the other choice...it was so memorable I have forgotten what it was). Imagine my surprise when I found the salad to be downright delicious. The crisp and refreshing lettuce combined with the creamy tang of the blue cheese dressing and the salty-crunchy bacon hit all my taste buttons. Even the out-of-season tomatoes were shown off to advantage. It was so good I could have eaten another one right then and there. As always, when I sample a well-made classic, I understand why it became a classic in the first place.
For our dinner that night I made a large chopped salad of hearts of romaine, tomatoes, bacon and blue cheese. I am including my recipe for the dressing at the end of the post (a loose adaptation of the one in Joy of Cooking). Unfortunately, I don't have an exact recipe for the salad. What follows is a rough estimate of what I made that night. Actually, I'm glad I don't have exact amounts—in general, salads should be exuberant, "to-taste" affairs—and this one is no exception.
For two large salads, I used three big handfuls of romaine (cut cross-wise in 1/2-inch ribbons), a large-ish ripe tomato (6 to 7 ounces?—more would have been even better), and 5 strips of bacon. Core and dice the tomato into 1/2-inch pieces. Cut the bacon thinly cross-wise and cook until crisp (drain on paper towels). Place the lettuce, tomatoes and most of the bacon in a large bowl.
Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing