Chef Tom – Salad Days

One of my favorite all-American treats, and one that’s starting to gain popularity after having fallen out of favor for a few decades.

Iceberg lettuce (aka crisp lettuce) got its name from the method of transportation, once the cross-country train system was created. Before refrigerated train cars, they would pile crushed ice on top of the pallets of lettuce (at the time, the number one vegetable in the US). The heads would peak out from below the ice and look like icebergs.

Iceberg Lettuce

Because iceberg is mostly water and hardly any calories, it’s a perfect diet food (draped with cream blue cheese and sprinkled with crispy bacon? uhm, no.). One of the factoids I always liked, even though it might not be true, is that you have to consume seven heads of iceberg before your body knows it’s being fed.

Be that as it may…this is THE cool, crisp, refreshing accompaniment to a steak, a burger, chicken, fish, any good protein.

Perfect for the warming weather. 

The Classic Wedge Salad

Wedge Salad

For the Salad:

2 medium tomatoes

2 teaspoons salt

1 head iceberg lettuce, cut into 6 wedges

1 small red onion

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 pound bacon, diced

For the Blue Cheese Dressing:

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons buttermilk

1/2 clove garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles

Chopped chives, for garnish


Dice the tomatoes and top them with the salt. Give them a stir to disperse the salt evenly. Allow them to sit for at least 5 minutes. Strain them after to remove the excess water if you wish.

Dice the onion and toss it with the vinegar and let it sit for at least 5 minutes.

Add the chopped bacon to a cold pan. Heat it on high heat, stirring frequently until brown and crispy. Strain the bacon and place it on a paper-towel-lined plate.

Make the Dressing

Add the sour cream, mayonnaise, buttermilk, garlic clove, salt, and pepper to a food processor. Blend until completely smooth.

Fold the blue cheese crumbles into the dressing.

Top the iceberg wedges with the blue cheese dressing then the tomatoes, pickled onions, and crumbled bacon. Top with the chopped chives and serve immediately.


The addition of the buttermilk makes the dressing perfectly pourable yet still thick and delicious. If you don’t have buttermilk, just measure out the milk and add 1/2 a teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice. A big dollop of plain yogurt will also work.

To make the iceberg wedges, cut the iceberg in half, scoop out the very bottom of the stem, and then cut each half into three new wedges.

Variations – Try these different additions to mix up this classic dish:

  • Balsamic reduction
  • Chopped hard-boiled egg
  • Shredded buffalo chicken
  • Chopped celery
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Try halved romaine hearts instead of iceberg
  • Mark the wedges on a grill

An expert primer on the Wedge Salad

One of my favorite chefs does an entertaining version of the wedge salad

Craft Cocktails

The Pandemic Years.

We decided rather than make sourdough bread like thousands of other hunker-downers, to do a very deep dive into crafting cocktails. We even splurged on a rather tasty cocktail table. After perusing a hundred cocktail “carts” with their fancy wheels and railings and gewgaws and curlicues (some were admittingly quite lovely), we opted for a 1950-something retro-French cocktail table. The patina went well with our living room walls. We also invested in a couple of nice decanters and some tasteful stainless bar tools.

Our Bar

For me, of course, it was research time. Recipes and techniques. After a few tries I discovered Anders Erikson. Man’s a stitch. He knows his stuff. His vids are entertaining. His videographer, Oz, is also funny. I think he tests his recipes before he starts to shoot because more often than not he appears slightly looser than the average youtuber.

Anders Erikson

Anyway, give a look and a listen. If you do imbibe, he makes some truly delicious drinks. The videos are fun, educational, and entertaining to watch anyway. These are just a few of about a hundred. In fact, the Bonus Track is their 100th video.

How I Make an Old Fashioned | the ONE cocktail you must know

The ESSENTIAL Spirits | 15 bottles to build your bar!

5 Summer Cocktails in 5 minutes | quick, easy, refreshing!


I Make YOUR Cocktail Recipes!


Chef Tom is currently transitioning from Personal Chef to Private Chef. He also teaches cooking classes, caters small parties and leads overseas culinary tours. His specialty for the last twelve years has been cooking for people with food allergies and sensitivities. His motto is “Food should give you pleasure, not pressure.”

Check him out at


3 Responses to “Chef Tom – Salad Days”

  1. Yummy … had an iceberg for lunch.

  2. Meant to say a Wedge Salad …

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