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romaine wedge salad with avocado-blue cheese dressing & smoked almonds

by Jackie Newgent  |  July 9, 2013  |  0 Comments

wedge salad-tasteover

©Photographed by Lea Loveland.

(Click on photo for full-size image!)

Makes 4 servings: 1 wedge each

Sometimes all I feel like eating during summertime is salad–especially during those dreaded heatwaves. How about you? So my terrific intern, Lea Loveland, came to the rescue. We teamed up to create this really refreshing appetizer salad. We took an iceberg wedge salad recipe and gave it a thoroughly modern, plant-centered, eye-catching update. One of my favorite parts is using hickory smoked almonds instead of bacon. Much friendlier for the arteries! Lea says, “Don’t be fooled by this lighter dressing because it’s full o’ flavor.” Please let us know what you think. Our take … it’s super tasty!

Calories Saved: 290

2 large romaine hearts, halved lengthwise
1 recipe avocado-blue cheese dressing (see below)*
8 heirloom cherry tomatoes, various colors, thinly sliced or quartered
2 ounces blue cheese, such as Great Hill Dairy, Echo Mountain, or Maytag Blue Cheese, crumbled, or Organic Valley Blue Cheese Crumbles
1 1/2 ounces hickory smoked almonds (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Place a halved romaine heart, cut side up, onto each salad plate. Drizzle with the dressing.  Sprinkle with the tomatoes, blue cheese, almonds, and pepper. Adjust seasoning, and serve.

Per serving (with dressing): 210 calories, 16g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 15mg cholesterol, 500mg sodium,10g total carbohydrate, 4g dietary fiber 4g sugars, 9g protein


avocado-blue cheese dressing
Makes 4 servings: 1/4 cup each

1/2 Hass avocado, pitted and peeled
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened green tea, chilled  Preview
1 ounce blue cheese, such as Great Hill Dairy, Echo Mountain, Maytag Blue Cheese,
or Organic Valley Blue Cheese Crumbles
Juice of 1/2 lemon (1 1/2 tablespoons), or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill, or to taste

Add all ingredients except the dill to a blender container. Cover and puree. Stir in the dill and adjust seasoning. Use immediately or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Makes 1 cup.

*In a rush? Go with a good-for you, all-natural bottled dressing instead. Try Bolthouse Farms Chunky Blue Cheese Yogurt Dressing or Whole Foods 365 Organic Light Ranch Dressing.

The “Before” Recipe

wedge salad

Adapted from recipe by Paula Deen at

Makes 4 servings

1 medium head iceberg lettuce, quartered
1 cup blue cheese dressing
1 medium vine-ripened tomato, finely chopped
12 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 scallions, chopped
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

  1. Place a lettuce wedge, on its side, onto each salad plate.
  2. Drizzle the dressing over the wedges.
  3. Sprinkle with the tomato, bacon, crumbled cheese, scallions, and pepper.
  4. Adjust seasoning, and serve.

Per serving: 500 calories, 46g total fat, 11g saturated fat, 1g trans fat, 60mg cholesterol, 1290mg sodium, 8g total carbohydrate, 2g dietary fiber 5g sugars, 15g protein


Tasteover Tips

  • To “stretch” a salad dressing, try unsweetened green tea; it provides zero calories, antioxidants, and aromatic flair
  • Create nutrient-rich creaminess while boosting deliciousness in a salad dressing with Hass avocadoes
  • For a good-for-you crunchy, salty, and smoky salad topping in place of greasy bacon, don’t go for “fake” bacon; keep it real and sprinkle on hickory smoked almonds
  • Rather than eliminating cheese or using a lower fat option, keep it 100% natural and reach for a stronger flavor variety so you can use a little less but still have 100% flavor

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