When I started this project, I separated the recipes into categories in hopes that I wouldn't get to the end of the project and somehow have ended up with nothing but 35 recipes for salad left.
There should have been no worries there. Of the dozen or so recipes behind the “salad” divider I created in the recipe box, only about three are lettuce-based. The rest? Mayonnaise, jello, or water chestnut based.* After my first week of cooking recipes from the box and accidentally choosing a lot of meat-centric dishes, I decided it was time for a salad. I chose one of the few veggie-based salads in the box, but it still has bacon in it, so healthy is relative.
Did you hear me? I said it has bacon in it, so here're your dinner plans for the evening. You can thank me later. Not only was this the easiest recipe I've made yet, but it was also the first one I've had help in cooking, which made it even better.
*sidenote here: water chestnuts? Really? My grandmother was a woman who had to put a note next to “garbanzo beans” on one recipe to remind herself to “look in the bean aisle for something that looks like hazelnuts” but she cooked regularly with water chestnuts??
4 Spoons out of five. This is delicious, (relatively) healthy, and if you garnish it the way we did, it has the perfect mix of sweet, salty, bitter, and crunchy that I think every salad needs to be really interesting. However, the bacon vinaigrette only makes enough for a couple spoonfuls per salad, and we had to add a little oil and vinegar to keep the whole thing from being too dry. It's still being added to our rotation, though!
Spinach Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette
2 heads little gem lettuce, 2 endives, or 3 handfuls of spinach, washed and well-drained
2-3 slices of bacon or 4 oz. lardons, cut into small pieces**
2 tbsp sugar
4-6 green onions, sliced
2-3 tbsp white wine vinegar, diluted with 1 tbsp water
A Blair Addition: Serve with sliced grapes, almonds, and radishes to bulk it up and add more sustenance. Also, I suspect it would be pretty great with a slice of goat cheese and a piece of garlic-rubbed toast.
**British bacon is nothing like American bacon and tastes way more like ham. If you live here in the UK and are making this salad, use lardons or pancetta as the grease from the pork is a necessary component of the dressing.
Dry the greens as much as possible and place them on two dinner plates.
Fry the lardons, pancetta, or bacon in a skillet until cooked through but still slightly tender.
Remove the pork from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.
Turn heat to low and sprinkle sugar and onions on top of the bacon grease in the pan, scraping brown bits from the bottom all the while.
After onions have wilted and begun to caramelise, deglaze the pan by pouring the vinegar water into the pan and scraping up all the bits. (Watch your face during this step-- the vinegar will become steam and it doesn't feel great in your nose or eyes)
Pour the onions and the liquid from the pan directly onto each plate of greens. Greens will wilt slightly as you finish preparing the salads.
Sprinkle half the bacon onto each salad and give each plate a good grind of black pepper.
Garnish as desired (see above for the garnishes we chose) and enjoy!