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.