Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Chicory Salad with Bacon and Parmesan


This is my favorite winter salad! Chicories are plentiful now at the farmers' markets. They come in a wonderful array of colors and varieties: frisee, radicchio, treviso, escarole, etc. The cold weather brings out the crunchy and bittersweet character of these greens.

Meyer lemon vinaigrette plays beautifully with the hearty greens, smoky bacon and nutty Parmesan.
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Ingredients:                   
About 1 pound of mixed chicories
3 strips of bacon
One 1-1.5 oz. chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 ripe Meyer lemon

Dressing:
1 heaping tablespoon Meyer lemon, finely chopped
2 t. Meyer lemon juice
2 green onions (about 4 inches long) or 1 shallot, finely diced
1 t. red wine vinegar
¼ t. kosher salt
¼ C. extra virgin olive oil (the best you have on hand)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (optional)
Fresh ground black pepper (at least a half-dozen turns on your grinder)

Directions:
Wash and spin-dry the chicories. Tear or cut them into large pieces. Leave out at room temperature. Cook bacon until crispy and then cut into ½ inch pieces. Let it rest on a paper towel to absorb extra grease.

For the dressing: Cut about six thin slices off the Meyer lemon. Remove seeds and chop finely, skin, pith and all. You should have about one heaping tablespoon. Add it to a small mixing bowl. If there is extra, don't worry; just toss it in the dressing. It should be 'lemony.' Add the lemon juice, red wine vinegar, diced green onion and salt. Add garlic if using and the extra virgin olive oil. Add some fresh ground black pepper, stir vigorously, and let sit for a half hour.

To assemble:
Place desired amount of greens in a mixing bowl. Add a light sprinkling of salt. Add the bacon and dressing. Chicories can take a fair amount of dressing. Add a few twists of the pepper grinder. Toss and check for seasoning.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel strips of the Parmesan into the bowl. Be fairly generous. Toss and then plate. I like to add more fresh shards of the Parmesan on top as well.
 

The variety of rich colors will be dramatic, and the pieces of bacon and strips of cheese will make the plate absolutely gorgeous! A lot of natural beauty with little effort.

Tips:

  • This salad is best at room temperature or slightly warm.
  • Something a little sweet, like persimmons, make a great addition.
  • I like to add a little rendered bacon fat to the dressing for a more savory character.
  • Pancetta is a delicious substitute for bacon 

Serves about four people. 


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