Some of the best dishes, I believe, come in the most untraditional and contradictory ways. For example, one of my favorite desserts is a souffle cake. It’s essentially a fallen-in souffle. “This dessert may look a little odd – but it’s delicious.” Same with the recipe I present to you this evening–a wilted salad. Even more so, a wilted dinner sized salad. For a carnivore-leaning omnivore like me, this seems just wrong. But strangely enough, this worked for me, and perhaps you might some value in it as well.

Wilted Mesclun and Chevre with Roasted Tomato and Bacon vinaigrette

Ingredients

3 cups mixed greens and 3 cups baby spinach combined in a large bowl
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced 1/2″ thick
4 strips bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 large heirloom tomato, cut in half
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1/4 cup combination of chopped parsley and thyme
3 ounces of crumbled Ile de France goat chevre plus extra for garnish

For the vinaigrette:

1/2 cup cooked, crumbled bacon
1/4 cup roasted tomato skins
3/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup walnut oil or olive oil
2 tsp honey
1 tsp dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium sized bowl, toss together heirloom tomato, first part of olive oil, chopped garlic and herbs, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. When thoroughly covered with herbs and oil, place tomatoes on a baking pan, reserving the leftover oil, herbs and garlic in the bowl for the vinaigrette. Place pan in oven and roast for 20 minutes, or until skins are wrinkled. When finished, remove tomatoes from oven and let cool, 6 minutes. Carefully peel the skin and reserve for the vinaigrette.

While the tomatoes are roasting, in a medium sized skillet on medium heat, render the fat from the chopped bacon by cooking, 8 minutes. When bacon is crisp and cooked, remove from pan to a paper towel. Retain at least 2 tablespoons of bacon fat, and while the pan is still at medium heat, cook onions until soft, 10 minutes. Remove onions from pan and set aside. Continuing the pan on medium heat, add sherry and apple cider vinegar, reduce and heat through, 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

In a food processor, add crumbled, cooked bacon, roasted tomato skins, heated sherry and apple cider vinegar and pulse until bacon and skins are rendered to tiny pieces. Add mustard, pulse. While processing, slowly drizzle oil into vinegar blend until fully integrated. Add reserved tomato marinade, pulse. Add honey and pulse. Salt and pepper to taste. When completed, pour finished vinaigrette into a medium sized pan over medium heat and heat through until vinaigrette is gently bubbling. Remove quickly and set aside.

Add cooked onions and goat cheese to the mixed greens and toss gently. Add half of the heated vinaigrette to the greens and fold continuously. Add rest of vinaigrette, if necessary, until all of the greens are lightly coated with vinaigrette and slightly softened. Pile greens on a plate, top with roasted tomato, and add additional goat cheese for garnish.

Bueno! Bella! Lovely. I was very pleased with this wilted dinner entree salad, and it was filling enough. It definitely gave me an excuse and room for a nice scoop of ice cream.

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