Candied Bacon Salad with Goat Cheese & Figs


I have such a backlog of recipes I’d like to post, so I’m plunging in today, but who knows when I’ll finish! I’m starting with a new summer favorite: this recipe is a wonderful riff on a Jamie Oliver salad from his book, Jamie’s America.  I still feel like this book is a new acquisition every time I open it, and I’m inspired every time, although I think I’ve owned it for at least six years now. At any rate, there’s plenty for me to still experiment with there.

As for the original recipe, I switched out the clementine slices and pomegranate seeds, which is what Oliver originally calls for, because I was so happy to find fresh figs at the market. So, here’s a little bit of a riff; I added the cheese to compliment the figs and also to lighten the appearance of the salad (which doesn’t have the prettiest appearance anyway, but the flavor is enough to make up for that).

I think we’ve made this salad three times this summer, and I hope to get another time or two in, but the figs may have already disappeared. I’ll have to switch to pomegranates next.

Candied Bacon Salad with Goat Cheese & Figs

For the dressing
6 T good-quality extra virgin olive oil
3 T white wine vinegar
1 heaped t mustard
1 heaped T natural yoghurt
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad
10 to 12 slices of smoked streaky bacon
1 clove garlic, peeled
3 slices of fresh white bread
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 heaped t sugar
10 fresh figs
2-4 oz. goat cheese
5 large handfuls of mixed salad leaves, washed and spun dry
A small bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked

To make your dressing, put all the ingredients into a large serving bowl, whisk together, and season to taste. Put to one side.

Get a large frying pan on a medium heat, add the bacon slices and cook until lightly golden (but not really crispy), turning them every so often. Remove the bacon to a plate. Squash your garlic clove and add it to the pan, then turn the heat up a little and tear your bread into medium-sized chunks. Drop them into the pan so they suck up all the grease and become crispy. If your bacon didn’t release a lot of fat and you think the bread needs a little help to crisp up, simply add a lug or two of olive oil. Add a pinch of black pepper and shake the bread around until crispy and golden, then remove to the plate with your bacon.

Wipe the pan clean with kitchen paper, then put the bacon back in with the sugar or honey and the juice of 1 clementine (or a squirt of lemon juice). Stir everything around in the pan so the syrup starts to stick to the bacon. As soon as the bacon is perfectly caramelized and sticky, use tongs to carefully move them to an oiled plate and leave to cool down for a minute. This process is quite quick so keep your eye on it, so it doesn’t burn.

Whatever shape you leave the bacon in at this point is how it will set, so give the rashers a bend or a twist.

Slice your figs and crumble the goat cheese, if needed.

Grab your bowl of dressing and add your salad leaves. Add the figs, and mint leaves, then use your hands to toss and dress everything thoroughly. Lightly toss your croutons through the salad and lay your candied bacon on top. Sprinkle the goat cheese on top and sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper over the whole salad.

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