Salad of Bacon Lardons, Chèvre, Oven-Dried Tomatoes and Grapes

With Avocado, Crème Fraîche, Tarragon Dressing

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By Peter Gordon

Published 2005

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Neither too light nor too heavy a meal, this salad makes a great summer brunch, but is also lovely served warm in autumn. If you don’t eat bacon, then you could simply not add it to the salad or replace it with cooked prawns, chicken or even sautéed wild mushrooms. If you are able to source unsliced smoked bacon then all the better – take the rind off and cut into 5mm thick slices. Then lay 4 slices on top of each other at a time – and cut these into 5mm thick batons. If you can only find sliced bacon, then no problems, just cut the rind off and cut into 5mm wide pieces.

Chèvre is the French term for goats’ cheese that you’ll find either as fat round ‘buttons’ or in log shapes. It usually has a white rind (although there are many varieties, including a popular one that has a black rind from being rolled in ash) and a crumbly white interior. If you’re no fan of goats’ cheese then shame on you – but being the forgiving chef that I am, you can replace it with almost any crumbly cheese, just don’t use something like Cheddar.


  • 8 ripe medium-sized tomatoes, halved
  • 3 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large handfuls of grapes, removed from the stem
  • 300 g chèvre (see above)
  • 300 g smoked bacon batons (see above)
  • 1 large avocado, halved, stone removed and flesh scooped out
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 100 ml crème fraîche
  • 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves (just pull them off the stem)
  • 2 large handfuls of mixed salad leaves (anything will do here, so take your pick from frisée, oak leaf, rocket, watercress, chicory or dandelion, or use a mixture of many)


Preheat the oven to 170°C, gas 3½, and line a baking dish with baking parchment. Lay the tomato halves on this, cut side up. Divide the garlic slices among the tomatoes, then drizzle them with 1 tablespoon of the oil, season lightly and place in the oven for an hour.

Toss the grapes with another tablespoon of the oil and add to the baking dish then cook both tomatoes and grapes for a further 30 minutes. By now the tomatoes should have shrivelled a little – the grapes likewise. If the tomatoes colour too quickly, take them out, or turn your oven down.

Cut the chèvre into 1 cm chunks (it may crumble, so they needn’t be perfect cubes) and place a piece on each tomato half. Turn the oven off and keep them warm. Put the remaining chèvre into a bowl.

Heat a frying pan, add another tablespoon of the oil, then add the bacon lardons and cook over a moderate-to-high heat to colour and crisp them, stirring frequently to prevent them catching or burning. Once cooked, drain on kitchen paper and keep warm.

Mash or purée the avocado with the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, crème fraîche and half the tarragon. You can do this in a small food processor or blender, or using a firm whisk. Season and put to one side.

To Serve

Divide the tomatoes between 4 plates and sit the salad leaves on top. Dollop on the avocado mixture, reserving a little for your guests to top up. Toss the still-warm grapes with the remaining chèvre and bacon lardons, and place this on the salad, then scatter with the remaining tarragon.