Monday, May 24, 2010
If I didn't already have a full-time job, I would have the time to make a recipe as many times as it took to get it right. But since this blog is just a hobby in my off-hours, I make the recipe once, then blog (eventually) about whatever actually happened, good or bad, learning as I go. As a side benefit, you (all 6 of you) get the benefit of knowing what not to do if you choose to attempt the recipe yourself.
That statement was probably more ominous than I intended it to be, as nothing really went that wrong with this recipe. It's hard to screw up a salad, especially one with as many awesome ingredients as this one.
This recipe came from Food Matters, A Guide to Conscious Eating, a book by Mark Bittman. I haven't actually read the book yet, but it has a lot of really good sounding recipes at the end that I was dying to try.
If I made this again, however, I would do one thing differently: I would cook the two strips of bacon at the time (like the recipe suggests) rather than using bacon that I had cooked the day before for our weekend breakfast. I was thinking that I was being efficient, cooking a couple of extra strips knowing that I would need them for this salad the next day.
But if I had read the recipe thoroughly beforehand I would have seen that you first cook the bacon in a pan, then remove the fat and make the rest of the dressing in the same pan, allowing the darkened bits left behind at the bottom of the pan to incorporate themselves into the dressing, intensifying the bacon flavor.
I'm sure that what I did - crumbling the precooked bacon into the dressing at the last minute - did not allow this dressing to live up to it's full potential, though it was still pretty good (let's not forget it has fresh ginger and cumin!). When you make this dressing, according to the recipe, mind you, I'm sure it will be fabulous.
Spinach and Sweet Potato Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing
adapted from Mark Bittman - Food Matters
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 thick slices of bacon
1 red bell pepper, cored and chopped
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon peeled, minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Juice from one orange
1 pound fresh spinach leaves
Preheat oven to 400 F. Pile the potatoes onto a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine, then spread out into an even layer on the sheet. Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes look crisp and browned on the outside but are just tender on the inside.
Meanwhile, put the bacon in a cold nonreactive pan (i.e., stainless steel) and turn on the heat to medium. Cook, turning once or twice, until crisp. Drain on paper towels, and crumble into pieces when cooled. Pour or spoon off the fat from the pan, leaving the darkened bits.
Put the pan back over medium heat, and add the last two tablespoons of oil. When hot, add the bell pepper, onion, and ginger to the pan. Cook, stirring a couple times, (the ginger will smell so good!) just until the vegetables are no longer raw, then stir in the cumin and the reserved bacon. Stir in the orange juice and turn off the heat. You can make it ahead of time up to this point, just warm the dressing gently on the stove before proceeding.
Put the spinach in a large bowl (large enough to toss the salad). Add the sweet potatoes and the dressing toss quickly to combine. Taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and serve.