The New “Wedge Salad”

Dare to EAT Different

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Just this week my daughter, Allegra, asked if I wanted to have a container of her “overnight oats” for breakfast. After eating the same breakfast for a few months – she’d had enough.

Good timing – I’d just read a Harvard Health Letter article, Dietary Rut? 5 Ways to Snap Out of It (1). As the article points out, eating the same foods most of the time limits your nutrient intake, even if you’re making healthful choices. You’re also depriving yourself of interesting flavors and textures – more pleasurable and exciting eating.

“An apple a day” is not the best advice to get the bounty of nutrients that contribute to health. Even within the same food group, such as the fruit group or the veggie group, each type of produce offers a unique array of vitamins, minerals and health-promoting, disease-fighting phytonutrients. There are over a thousand of these phytonutrients in plant foods so a varied “plant strong” diet can have health benefits. (2,3)

One of the five tips in the Harvard Health Letter article is “Be Adventurous.” Testing and developing a lot of recipes helps keep my food choices varied. I developed this updated “Wedge Salad for the Valley Fig Growers Fig Focus  Newsletter. Instead of iceberg lettuce, nutrient-rich cabbage wedges are brushed with olive oil and grilled until lightly charred, dressed with a summer herb and fig dressing and showered with blue cheese and bacon.

Often overlooked, cabbage is in the super-nutritious cruciferous vegetable family that includes kale, broccoli and cauliflower. Cabbage is economical, stores and transports well – a great choice for summer meals. I recently took a cabbage and the ingredients for this salad to the home of some friends on San Juan Island. Delicate greens would not have made the voyage on a hot summer day. A few days after arriving, this salad launched a dinner, made almost entirely on the grill.

A gas grill was named a “secret weapon” (1) for busting out of a diet rut.  It fires up quickly and does a fabulous job cooking veggies and fruits along with the usual protein foods. Keep the mess and heat out of the kitchen and enjoy more time outside this summer.

Grilled Cabbage Wedge with Herbed Fig Dressing, Bacon and Blue Cheese

Tips:
• Keep your eye on the cabbage wedges during grilling – the times are estimates as grills vary in heat intensity.
• Serve with a steak knife to cut the leaves off the core of the cabbage.
• If you can’t find golden or white balsamic vinegar, use white wine or rice wine vinegar and add a teaspoon or two of sugar.
• Feta or gorgonzola cheese can be used instead of blue.
• Tossed salad option: Cool grilled cabbage wedges. Cut leaves from the core (discard core) and thinly slice. Combine in a salad bowl with a couple of cups of your favorite spring salad mix, a few sliced radishes, the Fig Dressing, crumbled bacon and blue cheese. Toss and serve.

Serves 6 to 8

Fig-Herb Dressing:

6 tablespoons golden or white balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup dried mission or calimyrna figs, stemmed and sliced
¼ cup thinly sliced fresh chives or green onion
¼ cup finely chopped fresh thyme, oregano or combination
¾ cup olive oil

Grilled Cabbage and Toppings:

1 head green or savoy cabbage, about 2 lb. or 7-inch diameter
½ teaspoon salt
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup cooked, chopped bacon (about 4 slices)
½ cup crumbled blue cheese

1. For dressing, whisk together vinegar, water, salt and pepper to dissolve salt. Stir in figs, chives, and thyme. Stir in olive oil. Set aside for 1 hour while preparing other ingredients.
2. Prepare a grill for medium heat.
3. Remove and discard tough outer leaves from cabbage. Cut cabbage in half. Cut each half into 3 to 4 wedges (each about 2 ¾-inches thick), leaving the core attached to the leaves to hold each wedge together. Brush wedges on cut sides lightly with oil and sprinkle with salt.

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

4. Place wedges cut sides down, on grill over medium, direct heat. Cover grill and cook for 4 to 7 minutes or until edges are lightly charred and cabbage begins to soften. With grilling tongs or spatula, turn wedges over. Recover grill and cook for another 3 to 7 minutes, until edges char slightly and cabbage is crisp-tender.

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

5. Place cooked wedges on serving plates or a platter. Remove figs with slotted spoon and scatter around cabbage wedges. Drizzle dressing on wedges and sprinkle with bacon and blue cheese.

References

1.    Dietary Rut? 5 Ways to Snap Out of It, Heidi Godman, Executive Editor Harvard Health Letter June 20, 2018

2.    Phytochemicals: The Cancer Fighters in Your Food

3.    Phytonutrients

© Lorelle Del Matto 2018

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.

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