Here’s a salad that bacon lovers will swoon over – though you don’t have to love bacon to appreciate this salad. In fact, it’s a potpourri of flavors, in addition to crispy bacon: lettuce, quinoa, fennel, apple, carrot, almonds and avocado. (Click here to see recipe.)
“I happened upon this combination of salad ingredients while I was developing recipes for a dessert cookbook. All I wanted to do was eat something savory, nourishing, and healthful,” says blogger Cara Eisenpress, who created this recipe.
“So I tested combination after combination of salads, based on what was in my fridge at the time. This was the winner,” adds Eisenpress, who pens the Big Girls Small Kitchen blog.
The salad is dressed with a honey-Dijon vinaigrette. Eisenpress used our fruity Arbequina extra virgin olive oil for the dressing. She recommends cutting the veggies with a mandolin slicer to allow them “to mingle perfectly with the lettuce leaves.” Of course, you can use a sharp knife if you don’t have a mandolin. (Click here to see recipe.)
In terms of texture, Eisenpress notes the avocado in the salad “adds creaminess, while almonds and bacon contribute wonderful crunch.”
On top of her blog, Eisenpress also is an accomplished cook and a cookbook author. We asked her for her tips on creating salads and dressings.
When making a salad dressing, do you have a preferred ratio of extra virgin olive oil to vinegar?
Yes! I love to do 3-to-1, olive oil to vinegar. While I like a little bit of tanginess, I don’t want to pucker after each bite. Plus, this ratio is the classic French way.
What types of vinegar do you like to use in your dressings?
Actually, I like freshly squeezed lemon juice best. For certain salads, when I really want to reduce the tanginess, I’ll do half lemon juice and half fresh orange juice.
What are some easy ways – i.e., herbs, spices, etc. – to boost the flavor of a salad dressing?
I love turning half a clove of garlic into paste, either on a microplane or with a knife and some salt. I also adore fresh or dried thyme in my dressings, and a drop or two of honey never hurts.
What are some of your favorite things to add to a basic green salad – i.e., vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc.?
Don’t get me started! I can go a little overboard when it comes to toppings. But, I love to add a few rich, creamy, and crunchy elements to balance out those fresh, crisp greens. Avocado, toasted almonds and pine nuts, and homemade croutons are a few of my favorite additions.
What’s your favorite go-to salad that people might be able to make on their own?
Red or green leaf lettuce, thinly sliced apple, fennel, and carrot (I use a mandolin slicer), and toasted almonds, plus a plain lemon-Dijon-olive oil vinaigrette. Yum!
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