• Tomato, Cheddar And Bacon Salad

    Tomato, Cheddar and Bacon Salad.

    Here in California, Indian summer is (finally) in full swing. This means we get a few weeks of end-of-season tomatoes, and we do try and make the most of them. As noted in the blog, we generally make Caprese salads with our tomatoes, or even match them with blue cheese for a tangy dish. But as we move toward fall, we like to match up the tomatoes with bigger, meatier flavors. Around here, that usually means adding bacon.

    And since we make our own bacon and need to use our ripe tomatoes, this dish pops-up regularly on our table. And if matching tomatoes and bacon, then cheddar cheese won’t be far behind (no, we don’t make our own cheese…yet). In fact, this salad is really a deconstructed version of one of our favorite versions of grilled cheese and/or filling for omelets. The sweet acidity of the tomato matches with the salty, crunchy bacon and the sharp, creamy cheddar cheese- a good range of flavors and textures. We also add some Italian parsley, oil, vinegar, seasoning and (optionally) a little hot sauce to round out the dish. This salad has a lot of flavor and will please a crowd.

    Making the salad is as easy as browning some bacon or pancetta, slicing tomatoes and grating cheese. But we do suggest a few things to make the most of the dish. Firstly, using a few varieties of tomatoes (we used purple Cherokee, Valencia and Sungolds) adds depth of flavor and texture. Secondly, be sure to use the best bacon you can get and cook until very crispy, the crunch adds a lot to the dish. Sharp cheddar cheese, white or orange, works best. Sherry vinegar plays very well with tomatoes, but cider vinegar will also work. A little heat will add a lot to the dish, if there is a hot sauce you like, a few dashes on the tomatoes will take this dish over the top. Finally, make the dish a few minutes ahead, allowing time for the cheese to reach room temperature and the flavors to meld is worth the wait.

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  • Smoked Salmon Salad With Yogurt-Dill Dressing

    Smoked Salmon Salad With Yogurt-Dill Dressing.

    Memorial Day wekend is always a treat, but after a few days of stuffing our faces over-indulging we start to look for lighter fare. The garden and the farmers market always supply inspiration (and ingredients) but we also find plenty of simple, tasty recipes from other bloggers. And this is how we found this salad.

    We recently discovered Danish Hygge, a blog about Danish life (we are big fans of Scandanavian design). It includes all sort of posts and photos about Danish design, people and culture, but also has some recipes. They had a post on salad with seasonal vegetables in a yogurt and dill dressing and it seemed light, healthy and flavorful, so we decided to give it a try.

    Fresh radishes from the garden.

    The salad is a combination of greens, seasonal produce, smoked salmon and a “dressing” of dill and yogurt. Part of the fun of this salad is that you can add in almost any vegetable (even fruit) and get good flavors. In our case, we had radishes from our garden and early cucumbers and tomatoes from the farmers market and we always have carrots (ours still aren’t ready, sniff). As for the greens, our one recommendation is that you use sweet greens like butter lettuce, mache or even romaine rather than more bitter greens like arugula. The smoked salmon plays much better with sweet greens and the overall flavor of the salad is more harmonious.

    Ingredients. For the veggies, anything fresh will be good.

    We did tweak the recipe a bit to add more flavor. The dressing combines plain yogurt (nonfat or low-fat, we used low-fat), a bunch of fresh chopped dill, lemon juice, mustard, honey (or agave nectar), salt and pepper. We added a touch of hot sauce to the dressing to add a little heat and it worked very well. We also macerate a shallot in vinegar for a few minutes and then drizzle the slices over the salad. The sweet/sour nature of the macerated shallots are one of our favorite additions to salads and veggies.

    The salad itself has a mixture of crunchy, earthy flavors of the veggies, creamy/tangy dressing and salty smoky salmon. It is a satisfying lunch or a good starter salad at dinner. The salad tastes great and is healthy, too. Finally, the dressing is good as a sauce for grilled vegetables, so if you have extra, don’t let it go to waste.

    Smoked Salmon Salad With Yogurt-Dill Dressing:

    (Adapted from Danish Hygge)

    Notes Before You Start:

    • Other smoked fish like trout or sturgeon will work in this salad. We used a strong and smoky lox, but Nova or other lighter-smoke salmon will work.
    • Use whatever combination of fresh vegetables you like.

    What You Get: A healthy full-flavored salad. A dressing you can use with pretty much any vegetable.

    What You Need: No special equipment required.

    How Long: 10- 15 minutes depending on how many vegetables you chop. This is an anytime dish. Continue reading