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B.L.T. Wedge Salad with the Hotel Donaldson's signature St. Pete's bleu cheese dressing. David Samson / Forum News Service

Wedge into summer with this blue cheese dressing recipe

FARGO — Even though we no longer own a restaurant, I still enjoy connections to some of the area's best chefs thanks to Tony's role as the general manager of the legendary Hotel Donaldson in downtown Fargo.

Pastry Chef Dana Swanson has become a great source in helping me build my repertoire of HoDo favorites, and in addition to making beautiful pastries and desserts, she is also responsible for preparing the salad dressings, all of which are made from scratch.

The HoDo's signature blue cheese dressing is one of my all-time favorite salad dressings and I've ordered it nearly every time I've dined there in the past 15 years. The dressing features St. Pete's Select Blue Cheese, a wonderfully creamy blue that is aged in the famous St. Peter Sandstone caves in Faribault, Minn.

In Fargo, you can find it at the Prairie Roots Food Co-op and the cheese counter at Luna Fargo, both located on University Drive.

Recently, I visited with Dana about the recipe to dig a little deeper into what makes this salad dressing so delicious. In addition to the tangy blue cheese base, the dressing gets a little extra zing from the addition of cayenne pepper and red wine vinegar. According to Swanson, these two flavors combine to create a terrific spiciness that is unique among other blue cheese dressings I've tasted.

The HoDo's recipe also calls for crème fraiche, which is creamier than sour cream but also more expensive, and you can use either one with similar results. Buttermilk and a bit of real mayonnaise round out the liquid components to create a salad dressing that is tangy, lush and crave-worthy.

A classic wedge salad is a great way to showcase this dressing, and for this occasion I'm pairing the dressing with iceberg lettuce, bacon, cherry tomatoes and scallions to create a BLT-themed salad. This hearty salad packs a punch of great flavor, with the bacon and bleu cheese emerging as the standout components.

The savory smoke of the bacon provides the perfect balance for the rich and creamy blue cheese, and I use two slices of cooked bacon per serving to ensure that every bite is filled with this flavor sensation.

I chose cherry tomatoes for their extra-juicy nature, and before adding them to the salad I cut them into halves, and then drizzle them with olive oil followed by a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Green onions bring a gentle spice to the dish without overpowering the other ingredients the way a red or yellow onion might.

This BLT Wedge Salad is easy to make and perfect for a hearty lunch or light supper. The HoDo's Signature Bleu Cheese Dressing can be made several days in advance so that all you need to do is cook the bacon, chop the vegetables and assemble the salad. Then sit back and enjoy an amazing taste experience.

BLT Wedge Salad

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1 head iceberg lettuce, quartered into 4 wedges

8 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 scallions, diced

24 cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cups HoDo Signature Blue Cheese Dressing

4 ounces St. Pete's blue cheese, crumbled

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Place the tomato halves in a small bowl, then drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Stir to combine and set aside.

Place iceberg wedges on individual plates and generously drizzle each wedge with the blue cheese dressing. Top with crumbled bacon, scallions and cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle each wedge with kosher salt and black pepper, then garnish with a sprinkling of crumbled blue cheese.

The Hotel Donaldson's Signature Blue Cheese Dressing

Makes: about 2 cups (4 to 6 servings)

Ingredients:

1 cup crème fraiche or sour cream

⅓ cup real mayonnaise

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar

⅓ cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces St. Pete's Select blue cheese

Directions:

In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients together, except the blue cheese. Use your hands to crumble the blue cheese into the bowl and fold in until combined. For best results, refrigerate the dressing for at least 24 hours before serving. May be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Recipe Time Capsule

This week in...

• 2017: Patriotic DIY Playdough

• 2016: Bacon Blue Cheese Watermelon Salad

• 2015: Sarello's Signature Sea Bass

• 2014: Rhubarb Coffee Cake

• 2013: Granita al Limone

Recipes may be found with the article at inforum.com or on Sarah's blog at thelostitalian.areavoices.com

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