Of all flavors in the world, my favorite is smoky. To me, it’s the lost sixth taste: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, savory, and SMOKY. Right? For someone who eats mainly vegetarian, it’s a difficult favorite flavor, since smoky is so often associated with meat. So, Alex and I tend to use smoked paprika a lot in our recipes to add that smoky, savory meaty undertone to vegetarian dishes. We’re always looking for new ways to infuse smoke into a dish.
A few weeks ago I had a girls night with some fabulous Indy girl bosses (Tanorria, Lauren, and Lauren) at a restaurant in Indianapolis called Oakley’s Bistro. When I saw the menu featured a wedge salad with smoky ranch, I knew exactly what I wanted to order. Chef Steve’s take on a wedge salad covered the crispy iceberg lettuce with an insanely smoky ranch dressing, bleu cheese, sundried tomatoes, and crushed potato chips. It was a huge hit at our table, and I knew immediately that I wanted to create a version for the home kitchen.
For the smoky ranch dressing, we created two versions: one using smoked paprika that everyone can make, and one using our new favorite toy: our smoking gun! What’s a smoking gun? I first saw one demonstrated at the IACP conference in New York. The gun is used to cold smoke the food–that is, it injects a smoky flavor without applying heat. We’ve been using it to smoke just about everything: popcorn, potato chips, salmon, and yes: ranch dressing. (PS this post is in no way sponsored by the smoking gun. We are just legit obsessed with this thing.) So, you don’t need a smoking gun to make this recipe, but it’s really, really fun to have around.
Our version of smoky ranch is made with sour cream, yogurt, olive oil and a bunch of spices–smoking optional, of course! Drizzle the dressing over a crisp wedge of iceberg lettuce, and top it with sundried tomatoes, bleu cheese crumbles, chives, and a few crumbled potato chips. It’s an elegant side dish that takes no time to put together, but seems elegant and classy. It’s a perfect side salad for entertaining and the grilling season ahead! Serve it with a veggie burger or pizza and a glass of rose for a carefree meal al fresco.
This recipe is…
Vegetarian and gluten-free.
This side salad is a masterpiece! The classic wedge salad is transformed with smoky ranch dressing, crushed potato chips, and bleu cheese crumbles. Simple, yet stunning!
For the smoky ranch dressing
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons whole milk yogurt
- 1 teaspoon dried dill
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika OR a Breville smoking gun
- Fresh ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons warm water
For the salad
- 1 small head iceberg lettuce
- 4 sundried tomatoes
- 2 chives
- 1 handful potato chips
- 2 tablespoons bleu cheese crumbles
For the dressing, stir together all ingredients; add the water 1 teaspoon at a time until a creamy, drizzleable texture forms. If using the Breville smoking gun, place the dressing in a bowl and cover in plastic wrap, then place the smoking gun inside the bowl and smoke for a few minutes.
Slice the iceberg head into wedges (4 for a small head, 6 for a large head). Thinly slice the sundried tomatoes and chives. Crumble the potato chips. Place each wedge on a plate and garnish with dressing, sundried tomatoes, chives, chips, and bleu cheese crumbles.
About the Authors
Cookbook Author and writer
Sonja Overhiser is author and recipe developer of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best vegetarian cookbooks” by Epicurious, and a recipe developer and healthy & sustainable food advocate behind the award-nominated food blog A Couple Cooks.
Cookbook Author and photographer
Alex Overhiser is photographer and recipe developer of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best new cookbooks” by Bon Appetit, and a recipe developer, photographer, and technical expert at A Couple Cooks.