Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Poached Egg Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette

Adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

Basically, you gather as many greens as you'd like for however many people you're having. You obviously wash the lettuce/spinach (whatever you choose to use), and have enough bacon crumbles to make people happy with one poached egg on top of each individual salad. The following dressing recipe is enough for two large to three small salads, and you can increase the proportions as you see fit-- I mean...it's just salad dressing.

Red Wine Vinaigrette


2-3 bacon slices
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove finely chopped or crushed into a paste
2.5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon bacon fat (from the drippings of when you cook the bacon. also optional)
Fresh cracked pepper


Cook the bacon in a skillet on medium-high heat till the fat begins to render and you think it's done to your taste (some people prefer soft, some people like it bone-dry. I prefer it somewhere in between the two). Remove the bacon and allow to cool on a paper towel to soak up the extra fat. Crumble or cut into pieces when cool. Reserve the fat in the pan for the vinaigrette.

In a small jar (I think leftover jam jars are ideal for making a dressing...you just shake it all together and serve! Another option is a tupperware with a tight lid or even just a whisk and small bowl), just mix together the remaining ingredients, and season with the salt and pepper to your taste. Set aside.

Poached Egg Salad


Fresh eggs (one per person, depending on how many you cook for)
Greens (this can be a mixture of baby lettuces, spinach, curly endive--you name it)
Parmesan cheese
Homemade croutons, baby tomatoes, spring onions, etc are all optional, but lovely as well.
Bacon (from directions above)
Red Wine Vinaigrette (directions above)


To poach an egg, first heat a pot (or deep skillet) of water till it's very hot, but right at the level where it just starts to simmer. It shouldn't be a rolling boil by any means. First crack the egg into a small bowl, careful to remove any bits of shell. Add some vinegar to the water (this helps the egg keep its form in the hot water). The average amount of vinegar to poach an egg is, at the minimum, one tablespoon to four cups of water, but I always add a bit more because I love a good vinegar. Place the bowl with the egg near the top of the hot water and gently slide it in, and, once it falls in and the white actually turns from clear to white, gently stir the water to prevent the egg from sticking to the bottom of the pan, but be careful not to puncture the egg. The average time for a poached egg in the hot water is 3 minutes if you'd like the yolk to still be liquid with the whites set properly (which is the best way to have it on a poached egg salad, mind you.)

Once the egg is done, gently remove it from the hot water and place on a paper towel, and be very careful to pat it gently to remove any excess water. Repeat as necessary for the number of eggs you will be poaching.

Take the red wine vinaigrette and toss it with the lettuces you choose. Divide the dressed salad onto individual bowls or plates, sprinkle with bacon and freshly grated parmesan, and add chopped spring onions if you'd like. Additionally, if you have croutons around, toss those on too! A hunk of fresh baguette is also great with this salad. Place the poached egg on top of your salad and voila!! A most wonderful salad at any time of the year.

p.s. bacon is optional but is just SO good on this salad. Oh, and the dressing is a winner, even without the bacon, always. This is actually one of my go-to dressings.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Watermelon Salad

Adapted from Nigella Lawson's book, Forever Summer

As Nigella points out, you can make this recipe as simple or as complicated as you like (though it's not complicated at all). If you're really pressed for time, you can just serve the chunked watermelon with a sprinkling of feta and mint and a squeeze of lime, but where's the fun in that? Also, the proportions can all be adjusted to your own taste, so this is more of a guide, really, than a strictly measured recipe that you need to follow.


1/2 small red onion
2-4 limes, depending on how juicy they are
1 small seedless watermelon, or 1/2 of a larger watermelon
Feta cheese (the kind that comes in a big block, not the pre-crumbled kind)
Fresh mint sprigs
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pitted Kalamata Olives
Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
Pine nuts (optional)


Peel the red onion and slice thinly, into half-moon shapes, and place in a small bowl. Squeeze the juice of about 2 limes over the onions, and allow to steep as you make the rest of the salad (this diminishes their harshness, and the onions will become slightly more transparent.)

Chunk up the watermelon into large bite-sized pieces, (removing the rind in the process), and place into a large bowl. If you get a seeded watermelon, try to remove the seeds as well. Chop up the mint,( as much as you like, but at least 1/3 cupful,) and add to the bowl of watermelon pieces.

Tip the onions and lime juice over the salad, and add the olive oil and chopped Kalamata olives. Sprinkle with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and as much freshly crumbled feta as you please, and give it a gentle toss so that the watermelon doesn't break up. Taste for saltiness and lime, add more as you wish. Sprinkle with pine nuts if desired (or even toast them lightly and then sprinkle them on. Yum!)

This recipe is easily doubled or tripled for larger dinner parties or BBQs.... add as much mint, lime, salt, olives, and feta to your liking, just start with minimal amounts as it can get too salty so make sure to taste it along the way.