The Minimalist Wedge

SERVES: 4

These days, when there's a wedge salad on a menu, it tends to be a wedge salad of the maximalist persuasion, loaded up like a plate of disco fries. This wedge is all about restraint. It is a wedge salad reduced to its most essential, fundamental parts. No bells or whistles. If you ask me, what makes a great wedge truly great is the combination of extremely crisp, cold, refreshing iceberg lettuce (a truly superior lettuce) with an overabundance of tangy, creamy dressing. As far as I’m concerned, the rest of it is fun but unnecessary. You’ll double-dress your lettuce, first with fresh lemon juice, kosher salt, and extra-virgin olive oil, and then again with the aforementioned tangy, creamy dressing, to ensure no leaf is left undressed. I will rarely say this, but you should definitely feel free to dress the shit out of this salad. That’s what the wedge is all about.

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Produce

  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch chives
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 large iceberg lettuce head (about 11⁄2 pounds)

Pantry

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1⁄2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • Kosher salt
  • 1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Dairy

  • 1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt or sour cream

1. Make the garlicky panko:

  • Lightly smash and peel 4 garlic cloves. Set 1 aside for the dressing
  • In a large nonstick skillet, cook 2 tablespoons olive oil and the 3 smashed garlic cloves over medium-low heat, swirling the pan often, until the garlic is fragrant and lightly golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1⁄2 cup panko and stir to coat evenly in the oil. Cook, stirring often, so the panko toasts evenly, until golden brown all over, 4 to 5 minutes; season with 1⁄2 teaspoon salt.
  • Transfer the panko to a shallow bowl to cool. Pluck out and discard the garlic cloves.

2. Make the ranchy yogurt dressing :

  • In a small bowl, stir together 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1⁄2 cup mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon salt, and lots of pepper.
  • Finely chop 1 bunch of chives. Stir half of the chives into the dressing and set the remaining chives aside for garnish.
  • Finely grate the remaining 1 garlic clove and the zest
    of half of a lemon into the dressing. Halve and juice
    the lemon and stir in the juice. Add a splash or two of cold water to the dressing, stirring to combine, until
    it reaches a drizzle-able consistency. And of course, always taste and reseason the dressing after adding the water so it doesn’t taste flat.

3. Assemble:

  • Remove and discard any floppy, wilty outer layers from a large head of iceberg lettuce. Cut the iceberg into quarters through the root end so you have 4 wedges, leaving the core intact.
  • Arrange the wedges on a serving platter. Squeeze the juice of a lemon over the wedges, taking care to get the juice inside some of the layers of lettuce. Season each wedge (again, both inside and out) with salt and drizzle with more olive oil.
  • Generously drizzle the dressing over each wedge, spooning some of it into the layers of leaves and allowing some to drip down onto the plate. You may have some dressing left over; serve that alongside.
  • Scatter the panko and reserved chives over top and finish with more pepper.

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