Tag Archives: bacon

Wild Thing

Boy, are we ever having a heat wave!  Just in time for harvesting our 5500 heads of garlic.  The good news is it’s great for garlic; not so much for us garlic diggers and cleaners.  We get up early while the heat is bearable, then stop by midday to avoid becoming ill.  This is definitely the time of year for simplicity in the kitchen.  You can always throw something on the grill, but I really go for meal salads.  They don’t heat up the kitchen, and you can munch on them for a few days.  Virtually any grain or bean will work well, combined with vegetables of your choice.  I go for texture differences whenever possible; which usually means crunch and savory elements.  I’ve been making this salad for decades.  It’s great for a picnic (no mayo) and can be doubled or tripled to serve a crowd.

WILD RICE SALAD

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup long grain wild rice, cooked, drained and cooled
  • 8 pieces of bacon, chopped, fried and drained
  • 2 cups celery, diced
  • 2 cups white onion, diced
  • 4 ounces white or brown mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced
  • 2 cups curly parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup pecans or almonds, toasted

DRESSING:

  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Measure 3 cups water into a medium saucepan and add 1 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil and stir in wild rice.  Turn down to low, partially cover and cook for 40 minutes.  Drain in a wire colander and set aside to cool.
  2. Chop bacon, fry until crisp and drain on paper towels.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, place cooled wild rice, with celery, onions, mushrooms, pecans and parsley.
  4. Place ingredients for dressing in a pint mason jar.  Seal with lid and shake vigorously.  Pour over salad and mix thoroughly but gently.
  5. Serve on a platter and top with crumbled bacon.

Serves 4-6

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“I love how summer just wraps its warm arms around you like a blanket.”  —Kelle Elmore

Beyond Lettuce

I’m a huge fan of salads.  I could eat one everyday, particularly since we grow so many ingredients for them during the farm season.  When I was on a restricted diet following my recent surgery (the first 10 days were liquids) what I missed the most was a variety of texture.  God, just give me some crunch, something to chew!

Often times, when purchases from the farmer’s market are limited and the choice of lettuces from the grocery store are packed in plastic containers, picked over a week ago, you simply have to get out of the box.  If you want texture you have to get beyond the Honeymoon Salad (lettuce a lone!) and look for more seasonal fare.

There are many veggies that work beautifully in the winter for salads.  Try combining both fruit and vegetables like pear and butternut squash or kale, chickpeas and pomegranate seeds.  Nuts such as almonds, pine nuts or pepitas, hard-boiled eggs and hard or soft cheeses also work.  Try all kinds of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower or one of my favorites: Brussels sprouts.

Any type of cabbage pairs well with the smokey taste of bacon or pancetta. This gives you the option of making a warm dressing with some of the fat by adding something acidic like lemon juice or vinegar.  Get creative! Seasonal winter salads can be warm or cold.  They can be the center or side of a meal. You are only limited by your own imagination!

Brussels Sprout Salad With Warm Bacon Vinaigrette:

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  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 generous tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved and sliced thin using a mandolin or knife
  • 3 ounces shredded Pecorino cheese
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  1. Whisk together vinegar, mustard, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in small Pyrex measuring cup.  Add shallot, cover and heat in microwave for 30-60 seconds or until steaming.  Stir, then cover and let come to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
  2. Cook bacon in deep 12-inch skillet over medium-heat until crisp, stirring frequently.  Drain bacon on paper towels.  Add shallot mixture off-heat, stir until combined.  Add shredded Brussels sprouts and toss with tongs until dressing is evenly distributed and sprouts are slightly wilted, about 3 minutes.
  3. Transfer to serving bowl.  Add Pecorino, dried cranberries and almonds and toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

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Serves 4-6

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“What a wild winter sound,— wild and weird, up among the ghostly hills…. I get up in the middle of the night to hear it. It is refreshing to the ear, and one delights to know that such wild creatures are among us. At this season Nature makes the most of every throb of life that can withstand her severity. ”  –John Burroughs, “The Snow-Walkers,” 1866