Was it the invention of the fancy salad bag or its relatively watery, tasteless leaves that consigned iceberg lettuce to the unfashionable ingredient pile? Whatever the cause, there’s actually something in the crunch and coolness of an iceberg that remains covertly attractive, and a wedge salad that makes the most of this quality is a fantastically refreshing thing. It’s an awesome accompaniment for chicken wings and legs, sweet and rich meats from the barbecue, and also as part of a cold buffet.
Traditional ranch dressings involve sour cream and mayonnaise, but I prefer to cut buttermilk with Greek yoghurt as it feels lighter and fresher. There’s loads of dill for interest and quick-pickled radish for the occasional peppery and sour bite. But the icing on the cake – or the sprinkle on the wedge of iceberg – are the soy-sauce glazed pumpkin seeds and toasted quinoa. These add crunch, saltiness and umami, much like fried bacon would in the more traditional version.
- Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
- 35 g pumpkin seeds
- 20 g sunflower seeds
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 30 g quinoa
- 100 g radishes, ideally the French breakfast variety
- 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- 1 iceberg lettuce
- 65 g buttermilk
- 80 g Greek yoghurt
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 small garlic clove, crushed
- ½ lemon juice
- Fronds from 5 dill stems, chopped finely
- Sea salt
- First, toast the pumpkin and sunflower seeds in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat, stirring occasionally until two thirds of the seeds are golden brown. Remove from the heat and quickly add the soy sauce. It will bubble and evaporate almost instantly. Stir the seeds so that they are coated by the soy as it steams away. Spread the seeds out so they don’t stick together on a large plate to cool.
- Wash and dry the pan, then put it back over a medium heat. Let it heat for 2 minutes, then add the quinoa and cover with a lid. After a minute or so, you’ll hear the quinoa popping. Let this continue for another minute, shaking the pan once or twice. Then remove from the heat, check the quinoa isn’t burning, and (assuming not) put the lid back on and let the quinoa pop away in the residual heat. Once it’s stopped popping, add it to the soy-sauce seeds.
- Slice the radishes as thinly as you can, preferably using a mandolin. Put in a small bowl or plastic container, add a pinch of salt, the vinegar and 1 teaspoon cold water, and leave to soften while you make the dressing.
- Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or jar with a lid and whisk or shake until emulsified. Taste and add more lemon juice, mustard or dill if you wish. Cut the iceberg into six: cut in half through the stem, then slice each of those halves into three, at all times cutting through the thick stem so that the lettuce holds together in a wedge.
- Find a plate or shallow bowl to serve the salad on. Drain the radishes. Spoon a little dressing onto the plate and sprinkle over a handful of radishes. Arrange the wedges on top in one layer. Spoon the dressing all over the lettuce, then top with the remaining radishes and a few more dill fronds if you have them. Finally, sprinkle the seeds generously over the top.