Spring greens sustain warm dressings

Spring, with greenery sprouting across the landscape, is the time for salads. But the chill in the air calls for more warmth and sustenance than raw vegetables provide.

This time of year, I dress heavy-duty salads, containing meat and other proteins, with warm dressings often whisked up in a pan of bacon drippings. This technique always wins my husband over to salad for dinner. And the flavor variations from different vinegars and other forms of acid keeps the concept fresh until the mood for crisp, cool salads strikes.

Here is one such salad that uses grapefruit juice in the dressing for kale, sautéed wild mushrooms and bacon. I might substitute fresh, sliced rhubarb from my garden for the grapefruit segments to heighten the contrast of sweet, tart and sour in this salad. Tossed into a pan with sautéing bacon, rhubarb is surprisingly suited to savory fare.  

Food Network host Aarti Sequeira created this salad for The Florida Department of Citrus.

Kale and Grapefruit Salad With Warm Bacon And Wild Mushroom Dressing

1 to 2 bunches black kale (about 1 pound), washed, stalks removed, sliced into 1⁄4-inch ribbons

Kosher salt, to taste

1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for massaging kale

3 slices thick-cut bacon, roughly chopped

8 ounces wild mushrooms, thinly sliced (such as porcini and chanterelle)

1 medium shallot, peeled and minced (about 1⁄4 cup)

1⁄4 cup Champagne vinegar

1⁄4 cup grapefruit juice

1 tablespoon honey

1⁄3 cup shelled, toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

1 large ruby red grapefruit, cut into segments

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Place the kale in a very large bowl. Sprinkle with a couple of pinches of the salt and a light drizzle of the olive oil. Begin massaging, squeezing fistfuls of kale and rubbing between your fingers. Once uniformly wilted, set aside and prepare dressing.

Place a medium saute pan or skillet over medium-low heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring every now and then, until most fat has rendered and bacon bits are brown and just crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon to paper towel-lined plate. Pour bacon fat into a measuring cup. If necessary, add enough olive oil to make 1⁄4 cup. Pour back into pan.

Add the mushrooms, stir to coat in fat and spread in an even layer. Don’t touch them for 3 to 5 minutes. They will start to soften and sizzle. Now stir and cook, stirring often until they are golden- brown around edges. Stir in the shallots and cook until mixture is browned and aromatic.

Add the vinegar, scraping up any brown bits on bottom of pan. Turn off heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the grapefruit juice and honey. Mix, taste for seasoning and adjust according to your palate.

Toss the hazelnuts, grapefruit and cooked bacon in bowl with kale. Add contents of sauté pan and toss to coat salad with dressing. Season to taste with the black pepper. 

Makes 4 servings.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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