Iceberg lettuce with spicy buttermilk dressing

It’s hot. Not to hot to eat, but definitely too hot to cook. Last night I made the mistake of turning the oven on and nearly had a heat-related meltdown while cooking dinner, despite being fresh from a swim in the school pool and still being in my togs. If you’re basking in similar temperatures at the moment (as I write, it’s 6am and already 18C), then I suggest you forgo the oven and the stove for a dish that requires a bit of standing in front of the open fridge.

Iceberg Lettuce With Spicy Buttermilk Dressing Photo/Recipe: Lucy Corry/The Kitchenmaid

Iceberg lettuce with spicy buttermilk dressing and pickled onions
This is a homage to something on the menu at Wellington restaurant Charley Noble – I’ve become slightly obsessed with it and when I first worked out how to copy it we ate a different version for four nights in a row. If you can’t get hold of iceberg lettuce, try Little Gems.

1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 iceberg lettuce (or two Little Gems), washed and kept whole,
For the dressing:
1 clove garlic, crushed to a pulp with 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise (preferably home made, otherwise, try Best Foods’)
1/4 cup plain yoghurt
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
1 tsp Sriracha or other hot sauce

Put the onion and red wine vinegar in a small bowl, cover and set aside while you get everything else ready (this can be done in advance).

To make the dressing, put all the ingredients in a screwtop jar with a lid and shake well. Taste – add more hot sauce, lemon juice or salt as necessary. This can also be done in advance and stored in the fridge.

To serve, put the whole lettuce on a serving platter. Cut out the hard central stem, then cut through the middle into eight wedges – like you’re cutting a cake. Drain the onions and scatter over the middle, then drizzle about half the dressing over the lettuce. Any remainder dressing can be stored successfully in the fridge for up to three days.

What’s your go-to hot weather dish?



  1. January 28, 2015 / 7:37 pm

    where the F have you been? this looks divine and i'll swap your heat for my cold any day!

    • February 1, 2015 / 7:33 am

      Well, it's now raining, if that makes you feel any better… I knew I would jinx it!

  2. January 28, 2015 / 8:15 pm

    Looks great! Iceberg, very underrated. Love a good wedge with homemade ranch and crispy fried shallots as a side to any good grilled meat.

  3. January 28, 2015 / 11:10 pm

    I love iceberg lettuce – this sounds lovely! Does your school have a pool? Sounds very fancy to me. And is this the year that your small girl starts school. Well enjoy the heat – if your summer is like ours it doesn't seem to last very long!

  4. January 30, 2015 / 6:19 am

    It's so hot, isn't it? We're on a small farm and I really struggle with productivity in this weather! I also struggle with thinking of meals or going into the kitchen and cooking. I must bookmark this and try it, it looks delicious and perfect for this weather! Thank-you for sharing x

    • February 1, 2015 / 7:36 am

      Thank you – I feel guilty about loving hot, dry summers when I think about farmers and growers – hope you like this when you make it!

  5. January 30, 2015 / 9:11 am

    This recipe looks lovely. I love iceberg lettuce and the buttermilk dressing is fabulous.

    • February 1, 2015 / 7:38 am

      Thank you – it's funny how iceberg lettuces are nearly an endangered species now, they've been run out of town by mesclun and baby leaves. They still have their place though!

  6. February 1, 2015 / 9:29 am

    It's definitely all about salads for me at the moment, and this one definitely makes my "must-try" list – looks just so cool and refreshing. My partner has been away in India for the last two weeks, and I've scarcely cooked a thing since he left – the occasional piece of pan-fried fish has been about it – but salads, every day salads. Got to say though I'm loving the hot, dry summer (though we have had a rainy day today).

  7. Anonymous
    February 7, 2015 / 7:48 pm

    Gorgeous presentation! One question: how do you ensure that the lettuce is clean enough? I usually give my lettuces a jolly good rinse before I assemble a salad. Or once you remove the outer leaves can you be fairly confident that the inner part is ok to eat as is?

    • February 8, 2015 / 6:46 am

      Thanks – and I operate on the principle that the outer leaves are where most of the grit is, so I wash the outside thoroughly and hope for the best for the inner bits. If I'm in any doubt, I cut it into wedges (as per the above), then wash and carefully dry as much as possible. Haven't served up any dirty leaves or caterpillars yet…

  8. Jen
    November 11, 2019 / 1:55 am

    I am completely obsessed with that iceberg wedge at Charley Noble too and came online to find a ranch dressing recipe and found you! I was there on Saturday night for dinner and had a fillet steak and the iceberg wedge and seriously just wish I’d skipped the steak and ordered 3 iceberg wedges. I asked for extra onions too and they were happy to oblige. Will try your recipe tonight!

    • lucycorry
      January 26, 2020 / 8:55 pm

      Great! I hope you like the DIY version!

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