Everyone loves a wedge, and the version we’ve dreamt up is inspired by the chopped salad from a local pizza joint called Antonio’s in Angie’s hometown. Our homage has a rich, tangy dressing loaded with herbs, and crumbly bits of pepperoni crumbs for crunch. Instead of blue cheese, we make a kind of Goddess dressing, with basil instead of tarragon, and red wine vinegar for a throwback to that vintage pizza shop flavor. Serve this very, very cold, so the iceberg retains its refreshing crunch.
- Make the pepperoni crumbs: In a food processor, pulse the pepperoni for 1 minute until it looks ground and paste-like.
- In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the pepperoni and oregano and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the fat cooks out of the meat and it’s starting to crisp up, about 10 minutes. Add the panko and cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Set aside on a plate lined with paper towels.
- Assemble the salad: Remove the loose outer leaves of the lettuce and discard. Cut each head in half through the equator. Trim away the core on the bottom half and cut off a thin slice from the top half so that all of the halves sit flat on plates, equator-side up.
- Gently tuck 8 to 10 basil leaves in between the leaves in each exposed lettuce half. Sprinkle each half evenly with equal amounts of the red wine vinegar, olive oil, and oregano, then spoon about 4 tablespoons of dressing over each serving. Add more dressing, if desired. Arrange the pepperoncini, tomatoes, red onion, and Gorgonzola over the top, and finish with black pepper. Sprinkle ¼ cup pepperoni crumbs over each half. Serve immediately.
- In a blender, combine the anchovies, garlic, labneh, crème fraîche, parsley, basil, chives, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, sugar, and neutral oil and blend until smooth. The dressing may be made up to 3 days ahead.
Reprinted with permission from Italian American. Copyright © 2021 by Angie Rito & Scott Tacinelli with Jamie Feldmar. Photography © 2021 Copyright by Christopher Testani. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House.