Load up on addicting savory flavor with this Vegetarian Wedge Salad, made complete with carrot and brown sugar “bacon” bits!
When it comes to iceberg lettuce, the options are endless. It’s one of the most versatile types of lettuce and can be used on nearly everything! Sandwiches? Check. Burgers? Check. Tacos, wraps, and burritos? Triple check. But there’s one particular type of recipe that holds my heart as the #1 use for iceberg lettuce… wedge salads.
Maybe it’s all of the blue cheese and toppings, or maybe it’s just the fact that I love digging into a nice quarter head of lettuce. But either way, these vegetarian wedge salads are my favorite forever!
And because no wedge salad recipe is complete without a bit of bacon, we’re whipping together completely vegetarian bacon bits made with carrots, brown sugar, and seasonings!
Ingredients in wedge salad
This salad has two sets of ingredients. We’ll start with a flavorful carrot marinade, followed by the classics: lettuce, tomatoes, dressing, and cheese.
- Carrots: First up, 2 to 3 large carrots will serve as the “bacon” base.
- Soy Sauce: 2 tablespoons of soy sauce provide salty umami flavor to help mimic bacon.
- Olive Oil: Next, throw in 1 tablespoon of olive oil to help the carrots cook.
- Brown Sugar: Add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar to get a deliciously sweet flavor.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Give the bits a slight bite with 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.
- Seasonings: Season things up with ¼ teaspoon each of smoked paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper.
- Liquid Smoke: Finally, finish things off with ¼ teaspoon of liquid smoke.
- Iceberg Lettuce: 1 head of iceberg lettuce will provide the base for 4 salads.
- Tomatoes: Wash and prep 1 cup of cherry tomatoes to be divided amongst the salads.
- Dressing: 1 cup of blue cheese dressing will be the perfect amount — a quarter cup per salad.
- Blue Cheese: Finally, ¼ cup of crumbled blue cheese adds the perfect final touch.
How to make a vegetarian wedge salad
I’m no stranger to a good ol’ classic iceberg wedge salad. And let me say, these bacon bits really change the game. We’ll create these by marinating the carrots in a skillet, and then we’ll jump into the salad prep!
Step 1: Create the “bacon” bites
First, peel the carrots and dice them into the small pieces. Combine all of the remaining bacon bit ingredients in a small bowl, and then stir in the carrots to coat them. Let them marinate for 15 minutes minimum. The longer, the better!
Step 2: Prep the salad
Remove the stem of the head of iceberg lettuce. Wash and trim as needed, being sure to leave the root in tact to hold the lettuce together. With the stem side on the cutting board, cut the lettuce into 4 wedges. Quarter the cherry tomatoes.
Step 3: Cook the “bacon”
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the carrot pieces and the marinade to the pan. Cook until most of the liquid evaporates and the carrots are slightly caramelized. Reduce the heat if the brown sugar starts to burn.
Step 4: Garnish and serve
Place a wedge of iceberg lettuce on each plate and top with blue cheese dressing, crumbled blue cheese, tomatoes, and “bacon” bits.
Wedge Salad Variations
When it comes to wedge salads, you can get pretty creative. Every type of topping will work, but what makes wedge salads so great is their combo of salty and sweet. Here are some ways that you can keep that combo but mix things up.
Wedge salad dressing is classically blue cheese, but it doesn’t have to be! Since we’re using blue cheese crumbles, you can keep that flavor but add a honey mustard, balsamic, or ranch dressing, or you can get creative with a homemade yogurt-based dressing.
Did someone say glazed pecans?! Oh boy, glazed pecans (or walnuts) make a delicious topping for wedge salads. You can also add chopped red or green onion, hard boiled eggs, and/or chopped bell pepper! Get creative with it!
More fully Loaded Salads
The enjoyable salads don’t stop here! Here are some more recipes filled with all of the tastiness and toppings you could imagine. Dig in!
- Sweet Potato Salad with Quinoa and Hummus Dressings
- Freekeh Salad with Yogurt Dressing
- Curried Melon Salad
- Grilled Watermelon Salad
- 2 to 3 large carrots
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce 30 mL
- 1 Tbsp olive oil 15 mL
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar 5 mL
- ¼ tsp each smoked paprika, garlic powder, black pepper
- ¼ tsp liquid smoke
- 1 head iceberg lettuce
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup blue cheese dressing 200 g
- ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese 30 g
- "Bacon" Bits: Peel and dice carrots into small pieces. Combine all remaining Bacon Bit ingredients in a small bowl, then stir in the carrots to coat. Let marinate for 15 minutes (but the longer the better!).
- Prep Salad: Wash and trim any extra stem from the iceberg lettuce, being sure to leave some root intact to hold the lettuce together. With the stemside on the cutting board, cut lettuce into 4 wedges. Quarter the cherry tomatoes.
- Cook "Bacon": Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the carrot pieces and the marinade to the pan. Cook until most of the liquid evaporates and carrots slightly caramelize (if sugar begins to burn, reduce heat).
- Serve: Place a wedge of iceberg onto each plate, topping with blue cheese dressing, crumbled blue cheese, tomatoes, and "bacon" bits.