Wedge Salad with Bacon Buttermilk Dressing

Wedge Salad | Pinky's PantryWedge Salad is a typical salad served at classic American steak houses as a starter to your meal. It’s traditionally served with crumbled blue cheese and blue cheese dressing, but blue cheese isn’t one of my kids’ favorite cheeses. I love wedge salad, though, so here’s a version I make for them without any blue cheese in it. If you find you’re really missing the blue cheese flavor, go ahead and sprinkle some crumbled blue cheese on your salad. It’s all good!

WEDGE SALAD

(Makes 4 servings)

  • 1 small head iceberg lettuce
  • 6 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 slices sturdy white bread, crusts removed
  • 3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
  • garlic salt, to taste (optional)
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 small red onion, very thinly sliced
  • chives, minced (for garnish)
  1. Cut the lettuce into 4 wedges and place them in the refrigerator to keep cold until ready to use.
  2. Fry the bacon until crisp, then transfer to paper towels to drain.
  3. Dice the white bread into small cubes, a little less than a half-inch big.
  4. Melt butter or margarine in a skillet and fry bread cubes, stirring often, until golden and crispy.
  5. Season bread cubes with garlic salt to taste, if desired.
  6. Assemble the salad by placing one wedge of lettuce on each of 4 salad plates.
  7. Pour some dressing over each wedge.
  8. Top with a little tomato, onion, bacon, and croutons.
  9. Garnish with minced chives, if desired.

BACON BUTTERMILK DRESSING

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
  1. Place all ingredients into bowl of a food processor and process until combined.
  2. Chill until ready to serve.

NOTE:  Dressing can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept chilled in the fridge.

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Quick and Easy Chinese Chicken Salad

Chinese Chicken Salad | Pinky's Pantry
Oh my gosh, is it HOT outside! We hit 104º today! Whew! It’s even too hot to expend the energy fanning yourself! I needed to prepare something cool and refreshing for dinner but I didn’t want to work hard making it. Something quick and easy was in order. Enter my “Quick and Easy Chinese Chicken Salad.” What I love best about this salad is there’s very little prep needed if you buy pre-shredded rotisserie chicken, pre-cut lettuce, shredded carrots, and bottled dressing like I did! Then you literally just need to stack the water chestnut slices to cut them in half, and chop up the cilantro. Easy, peasy!
Chinese Chicken Salad | Pinky's Pantry
The dressing recipe I have here is a pretty simple one to make but if you really want to save time and effort, there are a lot of excellent bottled Chinese Chicken Salad Dressings out on the market. Just buy yourself a bottle and skip making it from scratch. Trust me, it’ll turn out just fine.

QUICK AND EASY CHINESE CHICKEN SALAD

For the Salad:

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, or 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 1 large head romaine lettuce, cut into bite sized pieces
  • ¾ cup shredded carrots
  • 1 small can (8 oz.) sliced water chestnuts, drained and cut in half
  • 1 small can (11 oz.) mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup canned crunchy chow mein noodles (can substitute ⅔ cup slivered almonds)
  • 2-3 tbsps. toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

For the Dressing:

  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar (plain or seasoned)
  • 3 tbsps. soy sauce
  • 1½ tbsps. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. peeled, grated fresh ginger
  • ½ tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  1. If using rotisserie chicken:  Remove chicken meat from the bones and shred into bite-sized pieces. (I buy it already pre-shredded at Costco.)
    If using boneless, skinless chicken breasts:  Drizzle chicken with olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and bake at 350ºF until chicken is just cooked through, about 30-40 minutes. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Make dressing by whisking together all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Place chicken, lettuce, carrots, water chestnuts, mandarin oranges, cilantro and chow mein noodles in a large salad bowl.
  4. Pour dressing over everything and toss together gently.
  5. Serve in individual salad bowls and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.
  6. Salad can be served cold or at room temperature.

Note:  For those of you who’ve asked me, one of my favorite bottled chinese chicken salad dressings is “Joey D’s Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing & Marinade.” It’s really good, but I’m sure there are others just as good out there. Use your favorite one.

Basic Vinaigrette

Basic Vinaigrette | Pinky's Pantry
A good vinaigrette is a simple thing to make. Sure it’s easy to pick up a bottle of dressing at the grocery store, but they’re usually high in sodium and lord knows what other chemical additives or preservatives. It’s much healthier to just whisk up your own fresh batch and it really doesn’t take that long to do.

The classic ratio for a vinaigrette is 3:1, meaning 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. You can then vary it in a myriad of ways. You could use different kinds of oil like walnut oil or even ordinary salad oil. You could use different vinegars (one of my favorite things to use is seasoned rice vinegar) or replace the vinegar entirely with a citrus juice like lemon or grapefruit. You could add all sorts of flavor enhancers besides the classic minced shallot, like minced garlic, or red onion. You could also add an herb or a blend of herbs like oregano, basil, or thyme. Give it an Asian flair by adding a little soy sauce, sesame oil, and minced ginger. And who does’t love a good raspberry or strawberry vinaigrette? The possibilities are endless!

Armed with a good vinaigrette, you can turn any lettuce into a bright, perky salad, or enhance the flavor of meat, chicken or fish with a little marinating time, or even wake up plain veggies and bring them to glorious, tangy life!

BASIC VINAIGRETTE

  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil or other oil of your choice
  • ¼ cup vinegar of your choice
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. add-in, like minced shallot or red onion, herbs like tarragon or chives, even a tablespoon of jam works
  1. Whisk vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, pepper and any add-ins together in a glass bowl. You can adjust the sugar, salt, and pepper, adding more or less to your taste.
  2. Slowly drizzle in oil while whisking constantly.
  3. Taste. If vinaigrette seems too sharp, whisk in a little more oil or even water.
  4. Let sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
  5. Whisk again before using.

NOTE:  In lieu of a bowl and a wire whisk, you could place all the ingredients into a jar, screw the lid tightly closed, and shake well. You could also use a blender which works especially well if you’re making a fruit vinaigrette that needs pureed fruit, like raspberry or strawberry vinaigrette.

Vinaigrettes can be made ahead of time. Place in an airtight container, cover, and keep chilled in refrigerator for up to one week.

Green Goddess Dressing

Green Goddess Dressing | Pinky's Pantry
In the early 1920’s, there was a play called “The Green Goddess” that was a hugely successful hit. The lead role in the play was held by George Arliss, a prominent British actor who moved to the United States during the turn of the century. The story goes that Chef Philip Roemer, the executive chef at the beautiful Palace Hotel in San Francisco, created the salad dressing for a banquet held at the Palace in 1923 in honor of George Arliss. Chef Roemer named it Green Goddess Dressing after Arliss’ play.

The delicious, creamy salad dressing quickly became famous, gaining popularity all through the 1920’s and well into the 70’s when it suddenly began disappearing from the restaurant scene. I don’t remember where I got my recipe from, nor do I know how close in flavor it is to Chef Roemer’s original recipe which I understand contained anchovies and vinegar. Still, this is a delicious dressing and is well worth trying. It makes a great dip for chips or crudités, too.

GREEN GODDESS DRESSING

  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. firmly packed fresh dill leaves
  • 1 tbsp. fresh tarragon leaves
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  1. Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.
  2. Chill at least one hour before serving.

NOTE:  This dressing may be stored for up to one week in the refrigerator.