Summer Wedge Salad

Here is a great summertime play on the classic wedge salad. Everything can be made in advance, so this makes for great picnic food (and grape tomatoes make a good snack for kids) – take all the parts along separately and then assemble on site.  You may use fat-free or low-fat mayo, sour cream and cream cheese for the dressings if you would like; and the recipe works with real bacon, turkey bacon and veggie bacon, too.

Grilled BLT Salad with Two Dressings

2 heads Romaine lettuce, cut in half lengthwise
1 pint grape tomatoes cut in half
5-6 strips of your favorite bacon, baked or fried and then crumbled

For the blue cheese dressing:
2 cups real mayonnaise
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
¼ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoons organic sugar
½ teaspoon seasoned salt
1½ cups crumbled sharp blue cheese

For the Ranch dressing:
1 (8 ounce) block cream cheese, softened
2 cups sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons minced chives
2 tablespoons chopped dill weed
2 tablespoons chopped tarragon leaves
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated or chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

1. For the blue cheese dressing; Mix together mayo, sour cream and buttermilk, blending well. Add sugar and seasoned salt and a dash or two of pepper. Gently fold in blue cheese (you want to keep it chunky). Keep refrigerated until ready to use. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if you would like.

2. For the ranch dressing: In a large bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise until very smooth. Whisk in the garlic, onion, parsley, chives, dill, tarragon, lemon zest, vinegar, salt and chipotle pepper. Season to taste with additional salt, vinegar and black pepper. Cover and chill until needed. This dressing tastes best if the flavors are allowed to develop 2 to 3 hours before serving, and will keep for up to 3 days, refrigerated.

3. For the lettuce and tomato part of the salad: Cut each head of romaine in half and trim off the top leaves. Place the cut side of the Romaine on a grill, grill pan or under the broiler just until the lettuce starts to char. Place on a plate cut side up and spoon your choice of dressing over the top.

4. Finish with cut grape tomatoes and crumbled bacon.

Heidi Billotto is a culinary expert who hosts cooking classes in the Charlotte area. See more from Heidi at heidibillottofood.com.