Thursday, April 5, 2007

Wilt Your Salad

April 5

All ye who avoid bacon can jump ship right here; I've got a neat trick for two very different salads.

Let's start with the classic wilted spinach salad, one you seldom see these days but your taste buds will thank you for. While I love spinach, I'm not crazy about it in the raw state because of a texture that bothers me. This wilting takes care of that and the recipe smothers the stuff in tangy flavors. It smothers it in bacon fat too, but being a Dr. Atkins devotee, I believe in fats of all kinds in moderation. That means I eat this salad about once every six months.

Get your bunch of spinach ready while you fry up about four slices of bacon. (If you don't use it all this time, believe me it won't go to waste.) You should have about three tablespoons of fat left in the pan. While this is still warm, add about a tablespoon of dark brown sugar and melt it softly in the fat, being careful not to scorch. Now add two tablespoons of vinegar to the pan and immediately pour the sizzling vinagrette over the spinach and add the crumbled bacon to the top. Wanting desperately to wilt the leaves I sometimes toss the whole thing into the pan to heat it through and thoroughly coat the spinach. Salt to taste and serve immediately.

The variation is a dish I saw Sara Moulton make on a Food Network re-run a few months ago and have gotten hooked on. It is made with cabbage instead of spinach so it requires a bit more cooking. You'll also need some bleu cheese for this.

Shred your cabbage. Fry your bacon and remove from the pan. Next add cabbage and steam it in the fat -- keeping the heat low -- for about six minutes, stirring frequently. Add a dash of vinegar to taste, salt and pepper, and top with crumbled bleu cheese and bacon. This is a surprising dish and very delicious. It can be served warm or cold, or at room temperature.

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