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I have always loved the all-American Classic Wedge Salad that seems to grace nearly every restaurant menu. It consists of the sweet iceberg lettuce, crunchy, salty bacon, and creamy blue cheese. I’ve seen some get really fancy with it, giving it an abundance of beautiful toppings, and some keep it simple with that which I mentioned above. After going vegan, I hadn’t had one for a LONG, long time, because bacon and blue cheese aren’t normally found in restaurants. Finally, this week I went for it with Vegan Blue Cheese Dressing, Coconut Bacon, and a trusty head of iceberg.
Blue Cheese Dressing
You simply must have blue cheese for a wedge salad – it’s just not the same without it. Cashews are a great base for any creamy dressing you’d like to create, so keep that in mind. You always need a tang too, so you can start with this base, and then add ingredients to your liking! Soak the cashews for at least 5 hours or overnight. I always opt for the overnight, putting them in a 2 cup Pyrex measuring vessel, filling that up with water, covering with plastic, and to the fridge they go, so they’re ready when I am.
The base starts with the soaked cashews, plant milk, salt, and lemon juice. From here you could go several ways – Ranch Dressing is the big one that comes to mind, and I recently made a Buffalo Ranch Dressing that was out of this world. For this Blue Cheese though, the granulated onion & garlic, worcestershire sauce, and crumbled tofu make for a fine alternative to the dairy products in the original.
The Wedge Salad
I’ve always loved iceberg lettuce. It’s not the most nutritionally dense leafy green, but it’s sweet enough to eat by itself without any dressing at all. It’s great on burgers, and super fresh. I cut out the core as you see here, wash it, and then start by cutting it in half. Then I carefully cut each half into thirds, making for 6 wedges total.
As far as plating goes, I start first with a pool of blue cheese. Not only will it help dress the salad as you eat it, but it helps keep the lettuce anchored to the plate as you cut. Then, I add more dressing on top, and then follow with a generous sprinkling of toppings.
Not only is the blue cheese a major part of of the wedge salad, but bacon is as important. There are a plethora of bacon substitutes these days. For example, there is the seitan-based like Sweet Earth’s Benevolent Bacon, or tempeh-based Light Life’s Tempeh Bacon Strips. What these types of bacon lack, however, is that delightful crunch of good bacon bits. My Coconut Bacon delivers this 100%. The super fattiness of the coconut flakes paired with the spices and seasonings gets pretty close to the real thing as a result. It has the smoky, salty flavor, with all the crunch your dark heart desires.
Make up a batch (or two) of the coconut bacon, blue cheese, or both the day before you make this salad. The salad comes together lightning fast as a result, and you can get lunch or dinner on the table lightning fast! Below, you’ll find not only the Vegan Wedge Salad itself, but also the Vegan Blue Cheese recipe as well. You can find the Coconut Bacon recipe here.
Vegan Blue Cheese Dressing
It starts with a creamy cashew base, and a few other sour & pungent ingredients to make this remarkable vegan blue cheese dressing.
- 1 Cup Cashews soaked in filtered water 3 hours, or overnight
- ¾ Cup Almond Milk or other plant milk that is not sweetened
- ¼ Block Extra Firm Tofu Pressed in a tofu press for 1 hour, or overnight
- 3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice Fresh
- 1 Teaspoon Granulated Garlic
- 1 Teaspoon Granulated Onion
- 1/2 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1½ Teaspoon Salt
Soak the cashews for 3 hours or overnight, and press the tofu in a tofu press for about an hour or overnight.
Strain and rinse the cashews, then place in a blender along with all the other ingredients except the tofu. Blend for 20-30 seconds, or until the mixture is very smooth and creamy with no lumps.
Transfer to a bowl, and crumble in the tofu, ensuring that the pieces are pretty small, no bigger than a pea. Mix well, and serve with your favorite salad!
Classic Wedge Salad
A classic Wedge Salad, complete with bacon and blue cheese dressing!
- 1 Whole Iceberg Lettuce
- 1 Cup Coconut Bacon
- 1 Batch Blue Cheese Dressing
- 1 Cup Grape Tomatoes halved
- ¼ Cup Pepitas
Cut out the core of the head of iceberg lettuce with a paring knife, and wash the outside. Let the water fill the core a bit, and then turn it over to allow the water to drain out. Place on a rack to continue to dry for 1-2 minutes.
On a cutting board, cut the iceberg head in half at where the core once was, to reveal two halves. Then cut those halves into 3 equal wedges, so you're left with six.
If you're only serving 4 people, reserve the wedges in a container with a lid, and refrigerate.
For service, spread 1/4 cup of the dressing on a plate, and add the wedge. Add two more tablespoons of dressing on the top, then divide the coconut bacon, tomatoes and pepitas among the four plates, and serve immediately with any extra dressing.