Thursday, June 19, 2014

Salad Season - Simple Vinaigrette on Bacon & Radish Salad.

My goal these days is to eat as much salad as possible.  That’s mostly because our backyard garden is bursting with lettuce, kale, spinach, and more!  It’s also because I want to stock up on the leafy goodness before the weather gets too hot and they start turning bitter.  Ultimately though it’s mainly because I love salads and never seem to get sick of the endless possibilities and combinations!

Rather than dump store-bought salad dressings on these wonderful local greens, I find it better to create a spontaneous salad dressing for each unique salad.  The easiest way to make a salad dressing is to start with oil and vinegar (both of which can be local too!).  Then I follow with some garlic or herbs, a bit of mustard, honey, sometimes a bit of mayonnaise or yogurt to help make it more creamy, and finally some salt and pepper.  Here’s what a typical dressing recipe looks like:

·        ¼ local oil (sunflower, soy, canola, etc.)
·        2-3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar (preferably raw)
·        1 clove garlic, minced
·        1 tbsp. homemade mustard
·        1-2 tsp. honey
·        1 tbsp. yogurt
·        salt and pepper

If the salad features lots of heavier greens like kale and mature spinach I like to add some bacon to the mix (there are some health arguments in favour of this*).  My favourite way to do this is to fry 1 or 2 pieces of bacon, chopped up, and then toss the greens in the pan after turning off the heat.  The greens don’t need to cook, they just get quickly coated with the delicious bacon grease and then thrown in to the salad and everything gets tossed together with a bit of cider vinegar.

Recently I took the bacon idea a bit further and fried pieces of stale sourdough bread and thin slices of fresh radishes in the bacon grease.  This salad turned out awesome.  The end result was a salad featuring fresh lettuce, a bit of kale, croutons and radishes.  A nice addition would have been some crumbled goat cheese but alas, I didn’t have any! 

Another great addition to salads is fruit.  When adding fruit—dried or fresh—I usually leave out the sweetener in the dressing because I don’t want the salad to taste too sweet.  Now that strawberry season is here I’m excited for all the new possibilities!  How about you, care to share any favourite salad additions, or family recipe tips?

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