A lettuce throwback

The range of leafy greens we use for salad these days is staggering. Spinach, kale, rocket, mesclun, cos lettuce, radicchio, and so on and so on. But there’s something about an iceberg lettuce.

They’ve had a bad rap over the years, but have made a come back at various hipster establishments. They’re a great choice for a restaurant side. They’re inexpensive to buy, they last well, they stay crisp in the fridge. And because they have a fairly benign flavour, they lend themselves well to robust dressings.

I was reminded of how good a wedge of iceberg is recently, when I watched an episode of Mad Men. Two of the main characters were lunching (unsurprisingly), and ordered a side of iceberg wedges with blue cheese and bacon. Despite the fact that this scene was deliberately written to reflect how outdated the food of the 1960’s was from the perspective of the 2010’s, it sounded like something worth making.

Iceberg lettuce always feels fresh. It holds it’s crunch, even after dressing. It’s as good wrapped around meats and condiments as it is served alongside. I’ve become quite a fan of using an iceberg leaf in place of bread at lunchtime. Poached chicken, cucumber, avocado, mayonnaise and salt and pepper, wrapped up in iceberg is a winner.

Salad wise, wedges or slices of iceberg are visually delightful. Old school pairings work well, with a modern twist. Walnuts, bacon, croutons, blue cheese are all delicious. As are goat’s cheese, slivered almonds, and pears. Unlike the 1960’s, if I’m going for cheese, nuts or bacon (or a combination of the three), I tend to avoid creamy dressings for a lighter vinaigrette.

Here’s a bunch of extra ideas from Bon Appetitbut being American, they do tend to favour the heavier creamy dressings. Unlike the 1960’s, if I’m going for cheese, nuts or bacon (or a combination of the three), I tend to avoid creamy dressings for a lighter vinaigrette.

ICEBERG LETTUCE WEDGES2016-11-29-19-47-44-v1

1 iceberg lettuce, outer leaves removed, cut into 8 wedges
6 rashers of streaky bacon, cooked until crisp
50g walnuts, toasted and chopped

Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

  1. Arrange iceberg wedges on a platter
  2. Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients until well combined
  3. Drizzle vinaigrette over iceberg, and sprinkle over other ingredients
  4. Serve immediately.

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