Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mesclun Salad with Apples and Warm Duck Bacon Vinaigrette

After a really long and difficult few weeks at work, I was dying for home cooking.  The months of November and December have been really bad for home-cooked meals (which I'm sure you can figure out just by looking at the scarcity of posts).  We had a home-cooked meal on Thanksgiving (and my last home-cooked meal before that was the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving), then I went to Hawaii.  Saturday, December 3 was my next home-cooked meal and the last one before tonight's dinner.  Let's just say that I have been eating a lot of takeout and my body has been seriously craving a return to normalcy.  More specifically, I was dying for some salad and some freshness - a welcome counterpoint to all of the fairly mediocre meals I have been eating at my desk for the past two weeks.  I just really needed some greens.  And what better way to get some greens in my diet than to hit the farmers' market and grab some from Windfall Farms.  Actually when I first walked up to the stand I thought it was 5 lbs of Dirt - the farm at the farmer's market up by us that we hit every Sunday.  The people working there were the same, so maybe the two farms are related in some way?  I don't really know but I know that both stalls have absolutely amazing greens.  I wanted to buy the baby mesclun mix because it was beautiful and combined a bunch of different and delicious greens.  To counteract the slight bitterness of the greens I wanted to do a warm bacon vinaigrette.  Alex had the idea of tossing in some thinly sliced pears, but I didn't think that pears and these particular greens would work well together.  I tend to like pears better with a more tender green.  So we compromised on throwing in some thinly sliced honeycrisp apples to add some crispness and brightness to the dish.

This salad was such a wonderful way to end my 2 week long home-cooked food drought and to celebrate that work should slow down a bit for the rest of the year.  I thought all of the components really worked well together.  The sweetness of the apple was a wonderful touch (good job Alex) and I loved the duck bacon vinaigrette because it had a really nice balance of salty and sweet.  The duck bacon was a little gamier (in a good/interesting way) and a little lighter than pork bacon.  Here's to finally being able to cook and eat dinner at home again!  And here's to more upcoming blog posts...

Recipe after the jump!

Mesclun Salad with Apples and Warm Duck Bacon Vinaigrette

4 slices duck bacon, cut into thin lardons (you could use regular bacon instead if you can't find duck bacon)
2 tbsp red wine vinegar 
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1/2 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 honeycrisp apple, cored and cut into thin slices
4 cups mesclun greens (ours had a mix of baby mustard, tatsoi, sunflower greens)

Heat an 8-inch saute pan over moderately low heat.  Add bacon and cook until crispy and fat is rendered.  Remove bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate.  If there is more than 2 tbsp of rendered fat remaining in the pan, pour off the excess duck fat. 

Add vinegar, mustard, Worchestershire and brown sugar to the pan.  Cook over low heat until the brown sugar is melted and ingredients are combined.  Remove from heat.  Toss apple slices in the warm dressing.  Top salad greens with apples, bacon pieces and dressing.


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