Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Bacon Balsamic Salad
It's easy to get stuck in a salad rut--you know that rut where a salad has to be something with chopped lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber (and usually a good dose of ranch dressing, right)--the kind of thing you get before your meal at a chain restaurant. The problem with salad ruts is that soon enough they turn into salad famines because that type of salad just becomes so painfully boring to eat day in and day out.
This salad rocked my little salady world. It's the best thing I've had in a while. I made it to eat with some Julia Child chicken, and with all due respect to the mighty Julia and her decidedly delicious chicken, this salad just stole the show. It's all I wanted to eat. And the next day too. If we hadn't run out of bacon and lettuce, I would have had more today. Oh--and Kip loved it too. And he's a man. Nuf said.
Okay not quite enough said. I should tell you that this is a warm salad. Does that scare you? It scared me too, but just have faith because it's amazing. You can cook the lettuce on the grill (it just gets a quick char, not a long cooking) or do it on a hot skillet like I did. It's not cooked till wilting; just enough to warm it and make the flavors meld.
This salad is easy, satisfying, and uses just a few simple ingredients (like, you noticed it's half a head of romaine right--don't let that scare you). Also, it's cheap. Ah--wonderful salad.
The only tricky thing about it is that it's really best served right away and with family dinners timing can be tricky because, you know, family dinners involve families and families don't always consent to your timing. Yeah. But it's still worth it. More than worth it. And even if it has to wait a few minutes, it's still a delight.
Bacon Balsamic Salad
adapted from Jane's Adventures in Dinner
romaine: .75, bacon: .25, Parmesan: .15, balsamic: .20
Note: You want your romaine to be a nice tight head. Usually it is, but every once in a while it's a little leafy. This is still good with a leafier head, but better with a tighter head.
1 head romaine lettuce, cut in half with the bottom part kept on so it holds together
1 clove garlic, minced
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Parmesan (a couple tablespoons probably)
balsamic glaze (see instructions below)
Bring romaine to room temperature. So get it out when you begin cooking stuff for the rest of your meal. (You don't have to do this, but it really does help; otherwise, you have a warm-on-the-outside-slightly-cool-on-the-inside salad--it's still good, but not as good.) Cut romaine head in half longways--keeping the bottom part so it holds together.
Drizzle olive oil on the heads and smear it all around. Add some minced garlic to each half. Sprinkle with pepper. Now let it sit while you make your dinner (if having more for dinner--this could easily be a light meal itself).
While it sits, cook your bacon. Drain it and crumble it.
To make balsamic glaze: Take your favorite balsamic vinegar, pour it in a pan, and cook it on high until it reduces to about half--it will thicken (especially if it cools a bit) and because a little syrupy.
When you're ready to have dinner, you're going to cook your lettuce. Heat a skillet till it's hot. Put your half heads of lettuce on it and cook each side for only about 30 seconds--they sizzle and possibly brown just the tiniest smidge on the edges.
Take the lettuce off the heat, sprinkle with lemon juice (don't forget; this is awesome). Then add bacon bits, Parmesan, and top with the balsamic glaze (which looked a little scary to me, but was so good I slathered it on my main course as well and decided I wanted to eat it on all foods from henceforth and forever--just wait--you'll see).
Eat while warm. Good, isn't it? Told you.