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Kale Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

14 Jul

kale bacon

With a hankering for bacon and the idea to use kale as a vehicle, i was reminded of a warm bacon vinaigrette someone brought to a potluck dinner party i attended years ago. I didn’t have the recipe but googling brought me here, which i used as the basis for my dressing. This salad has countless add-ons and i have listed a few here. mine is reminiscent of those devils on horeseback- bacon wrapped dates stuffed with blue cheese (and sometimes almonds). Feel free to get creative. One thing that makes this salad so great– besides the obvious combination of bacon and dates–is that the warm of the dressing softens the kale just slightly.

One bunch lacinato kale (or can use curly)

5 slices decently thick cut bacon

dressing: 2 tablespoons chopped shallot (about half a shallot), 2 tsp light brown sugar, 1 tsp dijon mustard, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

add ons: cucumber. dates or dried cranberries. gorgonzola. apples. some kind of nut or seed. if you want to be indulgent, a sunny side up egg.

To make dressing: add bacon to cold frying pan. Cook on med-low heat until well done. move bacon to paper towel and reserve bacon fat. there should be about 3 tablespoons. you can add olive oil if you are shy of that. add shallot to bacon fat and saute a minute to soften. stir constantly. whisk in sugar, vinegar, and mustard. season with salt and pepper to taste.

The key to a good kale salad is thinly shredding the kale. to do so, take kale off the stalk, pile the leaves, roll up and cut thinly (chiffonade). Add your desired toppings including chopped up bacon. add enough to warm bacon vinaigrette to lightly coat. enjoy.


Salad Dressings

17 Jul

My mother used to make a dressing that i still love– simple simple– lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar.
At Dana C’s house– we used to have olive oil, balsamic and parmesan.
Salad dressing changes the flavor of the whole salad. So in additon to the ol’favorites– I’ve been trying out some new ones lately. What I love is how easy these are to make – just throw contents in jar and shake (except carrot ginger and caesar which require blenders). Super fast & fresh.

Butcher & Baker dressing
Ina’s red wine vinagrette
Chuck’s chopped salad dressing

Carrot Ginger dressing

I have long been major fan of ginger dressings– like you find at japanese restaurants. I found a bottled brand that i like– but after the earthquake, it was briefly discontinued. Though it came back- once you start making your own- it is hard to go back to buying.

a Real Simple Recipe. Reed sent me this recipe.
1 cup sliced carrots (about 2 large- or a handful of minis)
1 small shallot, sliced
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced [i grated it]
1/4 cup white miso [would recommend sticking w. white- but i used mostly red miso and worked fine]
2 tablespoons rice [wine] vinegar [reed says sometimes uses a splash of white vinegar and water]
3/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup canola oil [i used grapeseed oil][reed uses mostly lemon juice instead of oil]

Place the carrots, shallot, ginger, miso, vinegar, and sesame oil in a blender. [i used my immersion blender and the smoothie/measuring cup it came with.] Blend, scraping down the sides as necessary, until very finely chopped, about 1 minute.
Add the canola oil and blend until nearly smooth, about 30 seconds. If necessary, thin the dressing with up to 2 tablespoons water. The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Tastes great on raw kale!

Honey-Tahini dressing– i usually halve the recipe below. Came across this one on good ol’google. It is from
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup tahini
2 tablespoons honey
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

combine all in a small bowl, jar or blender. and salt and pepper.
[a strange thing happens when you make this- it starts w. half liquid, half tahini- and the second you shake it up it gets super thick. i usually thin with a tablespoon of water or so before putting on salad- to reach dressing consistency again]

Cobb Salad

19 Jun

Made this salad for Father’s day brunch. It is all about assembly and presentation. Not only are the rows pretty- but they allow people to only take the ingredients they like. Eggs are on the side- b/c pops things they are yucky. Served this as side salad for 5… and scaled down some of the ingredients below (half pint of tomatoes, 4 hb eggs)- but if you are serving for a big party- by all means, do it all. Saw this recipe on Chuck’s Day Off. He is so dreamy.  Oh- and the dressing is awesome- could use for anything.

And by the way- if you didn’t get the memo already– it’s Cold-Brewed Ice Coffee season!

A Chuck Hughes recipe.

8 slices thick-cut bacon, cubed [used regular bacon
2 cups watercress
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled sliced [boil water, submerge eggs for 11 mins. remove to cold water bath to cool]
2 avocados, pitted, peeled and cubed
2 tomatoes, cubed [subbed pint cherry tomatoes]
1 head iceberg lettuce, cut into wedges [used boston lettuce]
salt and fresh ground pepper

2 hard-boiled egg yolks
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire, sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
salt and freshly ground pepper

For salad:
Skillet Method: Cook the bacon in a large skillet over med heat until crisp, about 10 minutes.
OR the Oven Method: line a rimmed baking sheet w. foil. Lay bacon. Put in cold oven. turn on and cook 17-20 minutes.
Transfer to paper towels to

For dressing:
Bowl method: In a small bowl, using a fork, mix the egg yolks into the mustard to make a paste. Whisk in the maple syrup, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the oil to form a thick dressing. Add 1 tablespoon (15 ml) water to loosen it up if necessary- [was not necessary for me]. Whisk in the chives. Season with salt and pepper.
OR my Jar Method: Do egg/mustard paste as above. Add maple, vinegar and worestershire- mix w. fork. Add oil. Put lid on and shake vigoursly. Then fork mix in salt/pepper/chives.

To serve, drizzle the dressing over the salad [or serve on side].

Greek Panzanella

4 Jun

Made this massive summer salad a couple years ago when I had some friends out to the beach house. Sigh, those were the days. Panzanella is generally an italian-  tomato and stale bread based salad. But this Ina Garten is like an enchanced greek version. Would be great for picnics- summer bbqs etc.

A Barefoot Contessa Recipe
1 hothouse cucumber [those long ones wrapped in plastic], unpeeled, seeded [cut cucumber in half lengthwise, take a small spoon and run it down the center, scooping out the seeds— this makes the salad less watery], and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, large diced
1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved [grocery store was out- so begrudgingly used plum tomatoes– scooped and seeded out the middle]
1/2 red onion, sliced in half rounds
1/2 pound feta cheese, cut in 1/2-inch cubes [i just crumble some]
1/2 cup calamata olives, pitted [i leave pitts in, just cause I like it that way]

olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups) [i used a multigrain loaf]
kosher salt

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil

Croutons. 2 choices here. Ina Stovetop Method: Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Add more olive oil as needed. [The first time I made this, I had a bit of a struggle– pan was too small, pile of bread too big- so not toasting- and I had to split into 2 pans. So I’d suggest only single layer of bread. OR Tessa Oven Method: Preheat oven to 400. Toss bread, olive oil and salt in a bowl. Spread in single layer and toast until golden– about 15 minutes

Place the cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl [legit large- this makes a giant salad].

Ina way: For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a small bowl. While still whisking, add the olive oil and make an emulsion. Tessa way: put all contents in a mason jar, shake vigorously. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta, olives and bread cubes and mix together lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.

Spinach Avocado Grapefruit Salad

31 May

I almost forgot how much I love this refreshing salad- so perfect for summer. Comes together in about 5 minutes. I used to make it before my Snacko Backo days– in the w. village apartment. Seriously, so easy. Make it now. And share it with your friends. As I did once w. ms. beezy burgess— to whom I send a special congrats– for grad school graduation!!
This recipe comes from Moosewood Low-Fat Vegetarian Cookbook
5 oz fresh spinach
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 grapefruit
1 avocado
salt and pepper to taste.
Rinse the spinach and spin or gently pat dry [ever tell you how much i love my salad spinner? totally worth the $$- small one]. Tear spinach into desired size. In large bowl, mix together spinach, oil, garlic– toss well and set aside.
Peel, seed and section the grapefruit- putting grapefruit and its juice into a small bowl [i have this super handy serrated grapefruit spoon- so you can just cut the grapefruit crosswise and dig out the good stuff].Chop up the avocado and add into the bowl- gently mixing together. Add them to spinach salad bowl. Sprinkle w. salt & pepper to taste.

Cheddar & Apple Salad from the Butcher & the Baker

4 Apr

A couple months ago, Brendan invited me to a dinner at his friends Silka & Jake’s apt. Authors of the blog The Butcher and the Baker, they put out an unbelievable spread. Always using farm fresh ingredients– with gorgeous photos to boot– I have been an admirer of their blog since. On Saturday, I decided to make their Spinach Salad w. Apples and Cheddar… and I have eaten it every day following. This dressing is likely to become a new staple at my place (and Sam’s as well).

Make fun of me if you will for my BK-overuse of mason jars… but it is super convenient to make dressing in, just measure ingredients on the side of the jar– and shake up– instead of bothering with the whole whisking, bowl etc thing. Storage and measure in one fell swoop.


1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp vinegar – reccomend apple cider vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 generous handful of raw almonds [i subbed pine nuts & sunflower seeds]
1 tsp bacon fat (or a little butter, if you’d like to keep it vegetarian)
1 1/2 lbs spinach – b&b add that they like regular, but baby would work fine as well [do note though that the regular organic/farm fresh bunch is quite unlike that old dark stuff you buy in big bags. It is lighter, fresher, and less coarse. i used a combo of watercress, spinach & arugula- also shocking how much more peppery and delicious a fresh bunch of arugula is to the boxed stuff]
2/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, cut or broken into chunks
1 medium apple, cored and thinly sliced [or chopped]- Fujis are great for this!
[optional add-ins: crispy bacon, avocado, radish]

Throw all dressing contents in a jar. Shake and enjoy.

Heat bacon fat or butter in small pan on medium heat. When melted, add nuts [or seeds]. Shake pan to coat– cook for about 5 mins, shaking every min or so. [seed/pine nuts cook a bit faster.] [If you are fresh out of bacon fat– or just feel like adding bacon to your salad as I did. Make bacon, cook until crispy, remove from pan w. slotted spoon onto paper towel. And voila, some tasty fat for your nuts (twss?). Also– if you are feeling super lazy– one day I just threw in the seeds, untoasted- and still good.]
If using almonds, when done, spread on cutting board, let cool for a few mins, coarsely chop.
Mix all salad ingredients in bowl w. some dressing to coat.

Kale Caesar

27 Mar

Kale Caesar is a staple at Sam’s house.  This recipe was first sent to me by Lan— and i love it.  Instead of having egg in the dressing, you push hard boiled egg through a mesh strainer and use as a topping- and it is actually quite gorgeous. You can also- as I have- made pita chip croutons- as inspired by a different salad that I saw on Chuck’s Day Off. But if you are too lazy– and not in the fussy mood- as Sam & E & I were last week– you can quickly throw together just the kale and dressing. Tastes good too if you let the kale sit w. the dressing for a little bit, softens it up.

This recipe found on Epicurious– is originally from Bon Appetit
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
8 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil [last time just use 1/2 cup and worked fine]
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 hard-boiled egg, peeled
14 ounces Tuscan kale or other kale, center stalks removed, thinly sliced crosswise (about 8 cups). Tuscan kale also called lacinato, black kale or dinosaur kale– has long, narrow, bumpy dark green leaves.  [I find the best way to chop… hold leaf and pull out stem. Then stack all leaves in a pile- on top of the other. Then– starting at the top tip– roll it up– so you get a spiral of kale– and cut into thin ribbons— sort of like you would cut cookies from a roll of dough.

Put first 4 ingredients in a blender of food processor– and process until smooth. W. machine running, slowly add oil to make a creamy dressing. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup of parm. Salt & pepper to taste. Cover and chill. Can make dressing 2 days ahead.

If doing the sieved egg. Take hardboiled egg and separate egg white from yolk. Place egg white in a coarse mesh strainer– and push through w. a back of a spoon. Scrape egg white from bottom of strainer. (clean strainer in between- unless you are lazy, like me).  Repeat w. yolk. [to boil an egg, i usually just lower egg into boiling water and cook for 11 mins. take out and put in bowl w. cold water to cool before peeling.]

Toss kale and dressing in a large bowl to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan and sieved eggs.

For Pita chip croutons– A Chuck’s Day off method
1 pita pocket
olive oil
salt- sea salt if have. or kosher.
1 clove garlic

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Open pita– and cut around the edges so splits into the two rounds. Rub surface w. clove of garlic, drizzle w. olive oil and salt. Cut each round– into chips- maybe 6 triangles. Bake for 10 mins or until medium brown.
When cool, take in your hand– and crumble over the salad.
Obviously- if you just want to eat pita chips– that works too.

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