|Can you see the bits of shallots in the vinaigrette?|
I first had this salad 16 years ago, and have been making it several times each summer, ever since. I am not stuck in a rut. It is just THAT good. I crave this salad every year. The tanginess of the goat cheese, and the way it softens and yields under the heat of the warm bacon vinaigrette, and the acidity of that vinaigrette. The salt and smokiness of the bacon. The creamy savoriness of the navy beans. The juicy sweetness of a sun ripened cherry tomato. The crispness of the lettuce and the warm chewy/crunchiness of a homemade crouton that's been bathed in olive oil. (Are you getting the picture?) This salad is a symphony of flavors and textures, and it's perfect as a main course on a hot summer night.
If you want to use some shortcuts, you can substitute canned navy beans but the flavor will not be as good. Sorry! And don't even think about using poser store bought croutons. A great salad deserves a crouton made from great bread. It's the difference between night and day.
The original recipe came from Food & Wine magazine in July of 1996, but I've altered it through the years to suit my family's tastes.
|Before I toss it with the vinaigrette.|
Salad with Navy Beans, Goat Cheese, Cherry Tomatoes, Croutons, and Warm Bacon Dressing
1 c. dried navy beans, picked over, rinsed and soaked overnight
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, smashed
3 T. salt
2 c. Tuscan or Italian or peasant bread, cut into 3/4" cubes
2 T. + 2 t. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 lb. thick-sliced bacon
2 large shallots, finely chopped
3 T. Champagne vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb. salad greens (I use the spring mix blend)
1/2 c. any variety cherry tomatoes (any variety: I have used grape tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, heirloom mini-tomatoes, and mini-pearls), halved
1/4 lb. mild goat cheese, crumbled into 1" pieces
When I soak my beans, I soak them in a brine containing about 3 T. salt to 4 qts. of water. Here's why, in the paragraph labeled the secret to cooking beans. Drain the brine off the beans, rinse the beans, and in a medium saucepan, combine the beans with the bay leaf, garlic and 4 c. of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to moderately low, cover partially, and simmer the beans until tender but not mushy, about 1 hr and a half. Drain the beans and let cool to room temperature.Discard the bay leaf and the garlic.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350º. Toss the bread cubes with 2 t. of olie oil and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.Bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden but not dry.
In a non-reactive skillet (and this is important because you're going to make the vinaigrette in the same skillet) fry the bacon until crisp. (I use an oven worthy skillet that is not cast iron, and fry my bacon in my oven: 400º for 20 minutes will about do it.) Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Add the remaining 2 T. of the olive oil to the fat in the skillet. Add the shallots and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, till shallots are softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
In a large bowl, toss the salad greens with the beans, bacon, toasted croutons and tomatoes. Add the dressing and toss. Add the goat cheese and toss gently but thoroughly. Serve immediately.
Summer is flying by: you deserve this lusciousness! Go for it!
|It's yummy. Oh, so lusciously yummy.|
P.S. Don't forget to Pin this on Pinterest!