Friday, 25 May 2007

Greenery with Bacon and Eggs

I've been following along at the Great Big Vegetable Challenge and have several recipes on my to try list (Chocolate and Beetroot Cake, Chard and Basil Fritters, Chicory with Herby Chicken and Watercress Pesto Sauce are at the top. The most recent post (Dandelions in the Post) inspired me to more instantaneous action. I've tried making something similar before - a warm bacon dressed salad - and it just wasn't satisfying but I always thought it should be yummy so why not try again?

What I made is a little different because I can't help but fiddle with recipes most of the time. Actually I did what I often do and went to a recipe site (epicurious in this case) and search for recipes of the kind I want to make (bacon salad) and read a whole bunch (including comments by people who've made the dish) then make up something based on what I glean from all that.

I didn't actually use dandelion leaves in the end, even though they have them at our co-op (so maybe next time), but thought I'd try some curly endive (as someone mentioned in the comments at the Great Big Vegetable Challenge site) . I also grabbed some cress to give a peppery hit, and happened to have spinach in the fridge already.

Since my husband is opposed to croutons in salad, and I saw a couple of recipes that used potatoes in various ways, I decided to have crouton sized pieces of fried potato in the salad. Yum.

So here's how I made my dinner salad:

  • I tore up some greenery (a mix of curly endive/chicory, cress and spinach) and let it soak. Meanwhile I diced four small redskin potatoes and put them to boil.
  • Cut some slab bacon (a quarter of a pound or so) into a cast iron pan as it was heating and fried until crispy, removed the bacon and most of the fat from the pan and set aside (I put the oven on warm and set them in there).
  • When the potatoes were most of the way cooked I drained them and fried them in the bacon fat (to which I had added a little olive oil and a splash of cider vinegar).
  • I drained the greens and put them in the salad spinner.
  • Once the potatoes started to crisp up I added the bacon back in (not the rest of the bacon fat though) and moved them to the oven to keep warm.
  • To the reserved bacon fat I added some walnut oil, cider vinegar, lemon juice and honey mustard to make dressing.
  • I poured dressing over the greenery and tossed to coat evenly. Then I mixed in the potatoes, bacon and a chopped tomato.

Here it is served up for dinner with eggs (hard boiled for my husband and poached for me).

Next time I'd either add more cress, or put pepper in the dressing. Also I used honey mustard in the dressing because I thought what with the bitter greens a little sweetness might be good but the potatoes added a sweetness so maybe next time Dijon mustard.

And to close this post a couple more food related links:

From the BBC: Tea 'healthier' drink than water
Which is excellent news because I do love my cups of tea.

And this article from ( via) ArcaMax:
Fast Road to Fat City - What price all those cheap burgers & fries? Science starts to find the unsettling answers. I must admit I did not actually get all the way through this article (it's long, I have a baby around most of the time) but the part I read had me interested, and kinda depressed. This is the part from what I read that stuck in my mind.
The average American consumer eats three burgers and four orders of fries each week. A typical American child now gets one-fourth of his or her vegetables in the form of French fries or potato chips. Half our nation's family food budgets are spent in restaurants, with fast-food operations and chains getting the lion's share of the spending.
I always thought potatoes counted as a starch more than a vegetable. Somewhere else I believe I heard that most of the nutritional value from vegetables children received came from corn (I forget where or when though so who knows how reliable the memory is). Also disturbing since it's not the most nutritionally valuable food item out there, and isn't it really a grain anyway? Maybe I have my food categorisation mixed up.

It's so tempting to have fast food when you're busy. I feel as though we get burgers and fries a lot and really we don't usually go more than once a week if that, still it's more than I ever used to and I want to cut back because even if she's not eating it yet our daughter is watching us and I don't want to set that example.


Ali said...

I love the combination of poached egg, bacon and salad. Yours looks good.

And I know what you mean about the irony of eating 'bad' food while you are trying to get your kids to eat well. Life just sometimes gets in the way!

Great Big Veg Challenge said...

Thank you for discovering the blog. Can Freddie and I help you decide which of your chosen recipes to do first?
Its definitely Chocolate and Beetroot cake. You have to eat that first.
There is never enough cake in this world!