Herb Salad with Egg Yolk Dressing & Bacon Fat Croutons

I love frisée salads with lardons, poached egg and perfectly crispy croutons. This recipe encapsulates all those French elements, plus some.

This salad is all about indulgence.

I bought a crazy good cheese from Whole Foods – Brebirousse D’Argental – and felt the need to share this discovery. It was the bright orange rind drew me in.

Goat_Cheese.JPG

Brebirousse D’Argental

If you want a punchy, funky cheese with a wow factor, this is your cheese. It’s flavorful in all the right ways. And, it liquefies in a matter of minutes after sitting at room temperature. I want that quality in my cheese, to be clear. Any fresh goat cheese would be wonderful in this recipe though, so stick with your favorite.

If you can get a fat slab of pork fat, which I couldn’t find, this is going to be that much better. I went with the highest-quality, thickest bacon I could find.

cheesecubes

Can we talk about bacon fat croutons?  Yes, French baguette croutons broiled in garlic, olive oil and sea salt are addictive. But these are next-level good. And take a lot less time, if you’re already going through the hassle of browning bacon.

If you’re anything like me, it takes time for me to establish new cooking habits – especially extra steps that seem like added work, but I know are worth the payoff. I always thank my past self for the effort.

Think – re-using frying oil, saving Reggiano rinds, grinding your own spices, regularly preparing chicken and beef stock, and flavoring batches of olive oil. In the case of bacon fat, I’ve started to save a jar of it in the fridge, leftover from previous frying sessions. I use it instead of butter in dishes that are begging for a bacon boost. A spoonful packs a whopping punch.

The key to this salad though, is the combination of the runny egg yolk and the basic vinaigrette. The simplicity of the dressing emphasizes the in-your-face richness of the other ingredients in this salad – the heavy goat cheese, crispy bacon fat, and croutons browned in said bacon fat.

If you aren’t enthused about eating raw scallion stalk, chives would work just as well here. But I have a feeling there are others out there who like raw scallion flavor as much as I do. Slightly less harsh than biting into fresh onion, and much more herbaceous. Plus, it adds to the greenery of the salad.

What are some of your favorite French bistro salads?

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2 as a main course.

  • 4 cups mustard greens or frisee lettuce, roughly chopped
  • 2 scallion stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup curly parsley, roughly chopped
  • 6 oz. goat cheese, of your choosing, crumbled or cubed
  • 1 medium heirloom tomato, cut into wedges
  • 2 cups French baguette, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 endive, leaves removed
  • 1 / 2 lb. bacon or lardons, cut into small cubes
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Whisk the Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat the bacon in a skillet. Brown until crispy. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. While still on low heat, add the cubed bread to the pan with the bacon drippings. Toast the bread, tossing often, until crispy and golden brown. Remove the croutons from the heat, sprinkle liberally with salt, and set aside.
  4. Prepare the salad – in a large bowl, combine the mustard greens, parsley, scallions, goat cheese, heirloom tomato, endive, croutons and lardons. Toss with the dressing.
  5. Plate the salads, topping each with an egg yolk. Sprinkle the salads with salt, and serve immediately.

 

Double-Dressed Radish & Arugula Salad with Ramp-Ranch Dressing

In the odd moments where I’m longing for some clean eating, usually after days of fried food, red meats and dairy-laden dishes, I admit I will throw a salad together.

I urge you to try this new dressing technique next time you make any simple, garden salad. They are, after all, simple salads, so they are by definition screaming for flavor.

Dressing salads not once, but twice, is the perfect remedy to what would be an otherwise flavorless disappointment. You want each leaf to impart some tang when it hits your tongue. Dressing twice eliminates the possibility of that truly miserable, dry forkful of undressed leaves.

We’ve all been there.

It’s the same feeling when you get to the bottom of the nachos, and there’s no cheese or toppings left.

Don’t text while driving. Hold the door for moms with strollers. Pick up after your dog when they do their business in public parks.

Layer your nachos.

The first round of dressing includes the acids, salt and with a bit of olive oil to coat – whether that’s lemon juice, balsamic or wine vinegar.

Due to some lettuces’ tendencies to wilt, the heartier the leaf-base of the salad, the better. I wouldn’t try this on mixed greens. But hearty arugula, romaine, bitter greens like radicchio & endive or kale would work great.

The second dressing – you guessed it – is the headliner. Here I made a ranch-style dressing with ramps I saw at a farmer’s market. Scallions offer the near-exact same flavor, so that can and should be used in place of ramps if you can’t get your hands on them.

Radishes and arugula share a sharp, spicy undertone. I added some roughly-crushed peppercorns to bring the pepper theme home. With a buttermilk ranch to mellow out these flavors, I can absolutely guarantee you will like this.

At least once in a while. 😉

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

F o r  t h e  S a l a d

  • 2 big handfuls arugula
  • 8 – 12 radishes, tops removed & sliced
  • 6 basil leaves, chiffonaded 1 / 2 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon crushed black peppercorns, for garnish

F o r  t h e  V i n a i g r e t t e  B a s e

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, or vinegar of your choosing
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon pepper

F o r  t h e  R a m p – R a n c h  D r e s s i n g

  • 1 / 3 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 / 2 ramp, minced
  • 10 chive stems, minced
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dill, minced
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Mix the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl. Mix the ramp-ranch ingredients in a small bowl, whisking vigorously to ensure there are no small clumps. Set both in the fridge for as long as possible (10 – 15 minutes) so flavors have a chance to blend.
  2. Rinse dirt & sand from the radishes in cold water. Dry. Cut the tops and roots off the radishes and slice thinly. Cigar roll the basil leaves and chiffonade about 1 / 2 inch thick.
  3. Serving 1 large handful of arugula per person, toss the leaves with the basil and vinaigrette base in a large bowl until all leaves are lightly coated in the vinaigrette.
  4. Plate the arugula & basil mix. Layer the sliced radishes into the arugula.
  5. Pour as much ramp-ranch dressing as you’d like over the top of each salad. Top with crushed peppercorns and a sprinkling of finishing salt.