The retro-classic “Wedge Salad”: The salad that eats like a steak. I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t want to eat a salad that requires you to use a knife and a fork to do so?! Full of wholesome and flavorful ingredients, these vegan wedge salads are satisfying enough to be their own meal, but they’re also a perfect show-stopping spectacle to help kick-off your next dinner party.

JUMP TO PRINTABLE RECIPES

Both of these vegan wedge salads, the Everything Wedge Salad, and the BBQ Black Bean Wedge Salad are made using my new favorite Guilt-Free Vegan Ranch dressing, which, spoiler alert, is just a jazzed-up version of my Universal Cold Salad Dressing.

Inspiration

Earlier this week, I was sitting in my office, being a Virgo, trying to create a schedule and calendar for upcoming video shoots and releases. The scheduling was going fine, and I had it all blocked out through the end of the year for when I was going to be publishing my videos. What I didn’t have, however, was a list of actual recipes that I was planning on putting in those videos. 

I have a magnetic board on my wall where I put Post-It notes full of recipe ideas that I want to experiment with. It’s right across from my desk, so I can always see it when I’m thinking about what I want to do next. 

On that same board, I have a few magazine clippings that I look at for photo inspirations. Sometimes it’s the composition of the photo that I like, or maybe it’s the lighting or layout. They stare back at me from across the room, but I don’t ever consciously think about how I will use their inspiration.

One of the photos that has been up there for almost two years is of a wedge salad. It’s from the September 2017 issue of Bon Appetit.

To be completely honest, I had never even thought twice about the fact that it was a picture of a wedge salad. I was just in love with the composition, the colors, the lighting, and the contrast. It was just a picture that I liked, and I didn’t really think about what it was a picture of. 

So, as I was creating this calendar, and slightly freaking out that I didn’t know what recipe I was going to do next,  I looked up, and saw the image of the wedge salad. For some reason, this time seeing it, I truly saw what it was a picture of and decided that a veganized version of this Everything Wedge Salad was exactly what I wanted to do next.

Guilt-Free Vegan Ranch

I too am cringing as I fully commit to calling this dressing a “Guilt-Free Vegan Ranch”, but hear me out. (This is more for me, that it is for you…)

I love ranch like Oprah loves bread. I’m one of those folks who puts it on everything, or is willing to dip pretty much anything into it. One might call me a connoisseur…. 

Growing up, I treasured the ranch dressing that I found at salad bars and pizza shops, and I scoffed at the atrocities that came in a bottle, claiming to be “ranch”. The bottles may have said “ranch”, but they were nothing in terms of flavor or texture when compared to the dressing that was seemingly only available at restaurants.

I’m not sure how old I was when I found out the restaurant secret, but after trying it at home, I insisted that we only have homemade, buttermilk ranch dressing in the fridge. (…Bless my poor mother for indulging my pre-teen gastronomical demands.)

When you make ranch dressing at home, you learn that there’s not much more to it other than mayo, buttermilk, and seasoning from a packet. When you then go vegan and have to make the seasoning on your own because there is buttermilk powder in the store bought seasoning packet, you realize that the ranch dressing flavor you have known and loved is little more than onion powder and dried parsley.

Once that seasoning breakthrough was made, I started turning everything creamy into a vegan ranch dressing. The easiest one is to add vinegar or lemon juice to a plant milk to make it a buttermilk, and then add a store bought vegan mayo. 

As a vegan, because I am consciously refusing to use any eggs or dairy, I am forced to find other methods of getting to the same goal. In a way, it’s very freeing. Omnivores have to deal with a set of cooking absolutes, like, “creamy” comes dairy, or “mayo is made with eggs”, and because they don’t have any self-imposed restrictions that force them to think outside of the box, they stick to using those same old ingredients to get the job done. 

If I want “creamy”, I can use plant milk, or I can use pureed nuts and seeds, or I could use silken tofu… There are a lot more ways to get to the same end goal, which encourages me to be more creative, and to look at ways of getting to “ranch dressing” in a way that might be a bit more wholesome. 

I know that this is a long-winded justification for a title, but I stand behind it. This search for “creamy without dairy” is what initially brought me to my Universal Vegan Cold Salad Dressing, and since that was already a mayo-based dressing alternative, I decided to use it as the base for another mayo-based salad dressing: ranch.

The ingredients are simple, and I love that I can have the experience of “ranch” but know in the back of my mind that I’m just eating tofu and cashews. It truly makes eating ranch dressing a guilt-free experience. 

Instead of saying, I should limit the amount of ranch that I’m putting on my salad because it’s nothing but whipped oil and stabilizers, you can keep adding more and more, knowing that you’re not adding empty calories, but instead you’re adding protein and nutrients. 

Iceberg Lettuce

Growing up, again, in the time of my great ranch dressing odyssey, iceberg lettuce was king. It was shredded on burgers and sandwiches, and it was the main lettuce that you would find at salad bars. I distinctly remember when I started noticing other lettuces like romaine or red leaf, and how I was interested in branching out, but  how I still preferred the crunch burst that can only come from iceberg lettuce.

As an adult, though, I had gotten away from my childhood favorite lettuce. I’m not sure if it was from societal pressures, and the voices that say that iceberg is “bad” because it has no nutritional value, or if it’s because I actually now just prefer the taste and texture of more elegant lettuces. 

In the last year or so, though, I’ve started buying iceberg again, mainly to make “shredduce”. It is the best lettuce for getting that refreshing crunch on a sandwich, and if you buy it in whole-head form, it’ll last forever in the fridge. 

When I saw the picture of the wedge salad, and the inspiration hit, I luckily had a half-head of iceberg lettuce waiting for me in the fridge. 

I don’t know why it has gotten such a bad rap in the last couple of years, but I truly am rediscovering my love of this old salad bar staple. It’s crispy and refreshing and has a mild flavor that allows other flavors to shine. Used in wedge salads like these, where you have to use a knife and a fork to eat it, the iceberg delivers so much. It’s hearty and crunchy and it truly adds more to the experience of eating a salad than any tender leaf lettuces could.

Guilt-Free Vegan Ranch

Guilt-Free Vegan Ranch
Prep Time
5 mins
Refrigerate
1 hr
 

At only about 360 calories for the ENTIRE BATCH, you can eat all of the vegan ranch you want, and the only thing you’re going to gain is more protein in your diet.

Course: Dip, Dressing, Sauce
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Michael Monson
Ingredients
  • 1 batch Universal Vegan Cold Salad Dressing (link in notes)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp MSG or Accent
  • Sat and black pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons dry parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon dry dill weed
Instructions
  1. Make the Universal Cold Salad Dressing, and then stir in all of the seasoning. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
Easy Vegan Iceberg Wedge Salad

Everything Wedge Salad with Air-Fried Tofu Pancetta”

Everything Wedge Salad with Tofu Air-Fried “Pancetta”
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
pressing or drying tofu
1 hr
 

Crispy-chewy Tofu “Pancetta” is the perfect embellishment for this classic retro salad, that eats like a steak.

Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 salads
Author: Michael Monson
Ingredients
For the Air-Fried Tofu “Pancetta”:
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, pressed
  • 2 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
For the Everything Wedge Salad:
  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce
  • Guilt Free Vegan Ranch (recipe above)
  • Air-Fried Tofu “Pancetta”
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • 4 tablespoons “Everything Seasoning” (mine is from Trader Joe’s)
Instructions
To make the Air-Fried Tofu “Pancetta”
  1. Press* the tofu for about an hour, and get it as dry as possible. Cut the pressed tofu into small cubes, between ¼ and ½ inch.

  2. In a mixing bowl, combine all of the other ingredients. Toss the tofu cubes into the seasoning mixture and allow to marinate for at least 10 minutes, or up to overnight.

  3. Preheat your air fryer or oven to 400 degrees F. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may have to work in batches. Cook the tofu for about 10 to 15 minutes, tossing every couple of minutes, until they are dark brown and getting crispy — without burning. Remove them from the air-fryer, and allow them to cool to room temperature.

To make the Everything Wedge Salad
  1. Remove the wilted outer leaves of one head of iceberg lettuce. Cut the head into quarters, from top to bottom. Cut out any bits or core that may remain.
  2. For each serving, place a wedge of iceberg lettuce on a plate. Generously drizzle the peak of the wedge with Guilt-Free Vegan Ranch. Top with Tofu “Pancetta, red onion, cherry tomatoes, and about 1 tablespoon “Everything Seasoning”. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

 * Tofu presses are amazing for getting the best texture for this dish. There are a few different kinds on the market, and they all work pretty much the same. If you don’t have a press, then you can cut the tofu into 1/4 inch thick slabs, and sandwich them between two towel. Allow them to drain for at least an hour. 

Easy Vegan Wedge Salad Ranch

BBQ Black Bean Wedge Salad

BBQ Black Bean Wedge Salad

BBQ Chip Dust is back, and again it’s paired with my Universal Vegan Cold Salad Dressing. This time it’s giving a savory-sweet kick to this retro classic BBQ Black Bean Wedge Salad.

Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 salads
Author: Michael Monson
Ingredients
  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce
  • 1 batch Guilt-Free Vegan Ranch (recipe above)
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup fresh corn
  • 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup red onion, diced
  • ¼ cup BBQ Chip Dust* (recipe linked in notes)
Instructions
  1. Remove the wilted outer leaves of one head of iceberg lettuce. Cut the head into quarters, from top to bottom. Cut out any bits or core that may remain.
  2. For each serving, place a wedge of iceberg lettuce on a plate. Generously drizzle the peak of the wedge with Guilt-Free Vegan Ranch. Top with diced avocado, cherry tomatoes, fresh corn, black beans, red onion, and about 1 tablespoon BBQ Chip Dust*. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

BBQ Chip Dust

easy vegan salad
easy vegan salad
easy vegan salad