Salad of Dandelions, Frisée, and Bacon with Croutons

Preparation info

  • Serves

    4

    as a first course
    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini

By Elizabeth Schneider

Published 2001

  • About

A modification of a classic bistro appetizer in which smoky bacon dice play sweet and chewy foil to bitter dandelion or chicory leaves (the Red-Ribbed is striking here) and pale, crunchy frilly frisée (curly endive). The French original is topped with poached egg, which many Americans consider an unthinkably rich garnish. I am not among them.

Ingredients

  • ½ pound small dandelion or dandelion chicory
  • ½ pound frisée
  • 1 or 2 small scallions (green onions)
  • 6 ounces lean slab bacon
  • About 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 French bread (baguette) about 10 inches long
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves, halved
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • Optional: 4 soft-poached eggs

    Method

    1. Cut apart dandelion stems if necessary. Swish in a sink filled with water; lift out gently so debris sinks. Repeat as needed. Cut into manageable pieces. Spin-dry. Cut apart frisée. Rinse. Cut into bite-size pieces and spin-dry. Combine both in salad bowl. Trim scallions and thin-slice.
    2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Pare off and discard bacon rind, then cut bacon into ½-inch dice. In wide skillet, cook over moderately low heat to render fat and turn bacon brown but not brittle. Transfer to dish. Pour out and save fat (do not wash pan); measure ¼ cup. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil (if less than ¼ cup fat is rendered, make up the difference with more olive oil).
    3. Cut off and discard bread crust, then cut slices ½ inch thick. Arrange on baking sheet. Bake until firmed but not crisp—3 to 4 minutes. Rub both sides generously with halved garlic (to scent, not to coat with pulp). Cut into ½-inch dice. Toss with 2 tablespoons of the reserved fat. Spread on baking sheet and bake until golden, 10 to 15 minutes.
    4. Mix both vinegars and salt. In small saucepan, heat remaining ¼ cup fat until hot but not smoking. Drizzle over greens, tossing to coat evenly. Add bacon to pan and reheat. Add to greens. Add vinegar mixture to pan and bring to a boil. Drizzle over greens, tossing well.
    5. Divide among salad plates. Top with croutons, scallions to taste, and pepper. Add optional eggs and serve at once.