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Show love to summer’s leafy greens

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Bless Your Spoon

 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve felt a bit wilted from summer’s heat. While not wanting to wish summer away, I admit to anticipating a change in temperature.

There’s no way summer can pass without showing a little love to the leafy greens from your garden. I crave the simplicity of a simple, green salad served with a more complex dressing. Greens washed in flavor-enhancing marinades and refrigerated overnight are delicious, as well.

But where leafy greens get most interesting is when they’re fresh and bathed in a vinegar inspired wash – and wilted. And everyone seems to agree that freshly fried bacon bits and eggs added to these green wilts make for delicious taste combos.

By using wilted greens as a base for meats, pasta, or stacks of roasted vegetables, on a taste scale, you’ll boost these good recipes right up to gourmet.   

Wash and thoroughly dry all the leaves.  Vinegar washed and wilted greens are to be served right away – you’re serving salad and not soup.

WILTED SPINACH

WITH BACON

1 pound fresh spinach

12 slices cooked, drained, crumbled bacon

6 Tbsp. bacon drippings

2 Tbsp. olive oil

3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

½ juiced lemon

½ tsp. salt, or to taste

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Wash and dry spinach. Cut tough ends and discard. Tear (not cut) leaves into bite-sized pieces and put in a bowl.  In a skillet, cook bacon until very crispy. Remove with fork and allow any excess fat to drip off. Drain bacon on a paper towel. Crumble bacon and add to the spinach. To the bacon fat, add oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and mix well. Heat while stirring and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. While mixture is hot, pour over spinach greens and toss. Drain and serve immediately.

SWISS CHARD WITH SMOKED BACON

3 slices cooked, drained, crumbled hickory-smoked bacon

3 lbs. sliced, Swiss chard beet greens

¾ cup chicken broth

1 ½ tsp. cornstarch

3 minced garlic cloves

2 tsp. fresh basil

1/3 cup pine nuts

Steam the greens for 2 minutes. In a heavy skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Drain on a paper towel and crumble. Discard the extra drippings. In same skillet, combine chicken stock, cornstarch, garlic, and basil. Whisk until cornstarch dissolves. Bring to a boil while whisking. Pour over greens, add bacon and pine nuts, and toss to coat. Spinach can be used for Swiss chard and walnuts for pine nuts.

WILTED LETTUCE WITH EGGS

1 head of iceberg lettuce

6 strips of cut, cooked, drained bacon

Bacon drippings

½ cup red wine vinegar

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3 chopped hard-cooked eggs

Wash and thoroughly dry lettuce. Tear into small pieces and chill. Cut bacon into pieces. In a skillet, fry bacon until crisp, remove with slotted spoon, and drain on a paper towel.  Add vinegar, salt, and pepper to the hot drippings in the skillet. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Arrange bacon on top of lettuce with the chopped eggs. When ready to serve, pour over lettuce and toss quickly.  Drain excess and serve immediately.

MIXED GREENS IN COOKED DRESSING

12 slices cooked, drained, crumbled bacon

4 beaten eggs

¼ lb. leaf lettuce

¼ lb. fresh spinach

¼ lb. endive

¼ lb. fresh arugula

7 Tbsp. bacon drippings

½ cup apple cider vinegar

½ cup water

½ cup sugar

In a skillet, cook bacon until very crispy. Remove with fork and allow any excess fat to drip off. Drain bacon on a paper towel. Crumble bacon and set aside.  In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. In a skillet, combine bacon drippings, vinegar, water, and sugar. Heat to boiling for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add a little of the warm vinegar mixture to the beaten eggs to prevent curdling.  Then stir egg mixture into the vinegar mixture a little at a time. Simmer on low for 5 minutes.  Fold in bacon crumbles. While vinegar mixture is simmering, tear all green leaves into pieces and place in large bowl. Pour hot vinegar wash over fresh greens. Drain and serve immediately.

HOT CABBAGE SLAW

½ lb. cooked, drained, crumbled bacon

¼ cup bacon drippings

1 head shredded cabbage

½ cup white vinegar

3 Tbsp. sugar

1/8 tsp. Lowry’s salt

In a skillet, cook bacon until very crispy. Remove with fork and allow any excess fat to drip off. Drain bacon on a paper towel. Crumble bacon and set aside. In a skillet, combine bacon drippings, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Pour hot dressing over shredded cabbage just before serving. Serve immediately. Sprinkle bacon crumbles on top of each serving. Drain excess and serve immediately.

ASIAN LETTUCE SALAD

Small pkg. toasted slivered almonds

¼ cup toasted sesame seeds

5 Tbsp. sugar

5 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

2 tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

1 tsp. Accent

2 tsp. minced fresh ginger

1 lb. sliced head of iceberg lettuce

4 sliced whole green onions

1 large can Chinese rice noodles

On an oven sheet, toast slivered almonds and sesame seeds. Set aside. In a saucepan, combine sugar, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, Accent, and fresh ginger. Bring to a boil, and remove from heat.  In a bowl, slice onions. Slice lettuce head crosswise in lengths. Sprinkle lettuce with toasted almonds and sesame seeds.   Toss hot vinegar mix with salad right before serving this dish. When serving, top with Chinese noodles. Drain excess and serve right away so lettuce is slightly wilted.