BLT Salad

This salad is so simple that it makes me wonder why I didn’t invent it myself. The roasted potato addition adds some heartiness and doesn’t make you notice that the bacon is really just a garnish – if you’re able to grab any. C and his little mitts snatched the bacon before the rest of us could get to it. I knew blue cheese would be a non starter for our aspiring foodies, so rather than waste my precious Matag Blue, I opted for a nice sharp cheddar that was in the fridge. Credit to The Peanut in KC for reminding me that a good BLT has a bit of cheddar on it. I have a fun memory making this salad several (ok, many) years ago to celebrate new outdoor patio furniture with some good Kansas City friends. JM and KP, this one is for you.

BLT Salad
From Cooking Thin with Chef Kathleen, Kathleen Daelemans
My comments/experiences are in italics. 

Ingredients
1 1/4 pounds small white or red new potatoes (I used baby reds – smaller the better)
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided)
Course-grained salt and cracked black pepper
1 large sweet onion, peeled, cored, and cut into 4 thick slices
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or any other vinegar you like
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh basil leaves (fresh makes a difference. Don’t sub them for dried)
3 medium cored tomatoes, peeled cored, and cut into large chunks. (I used cherry tomatoes cut in half – they taste better out of season and it’s nice to have something handy for little hands to grab)
1/4 pound of bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch strips
12 cups loosely packed washed salad greens (such as arugula or a variety of mixed greens)
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese (I subbed a sharp cheddar)
Leftovers personalization – I had some extra pistachio nuts, so I chopped them up for the salad also. Now that my braces are off, I add nuts to just about everything. 

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE: gallon sized plastic ziplock-style bags. 

Preheat oven to 425. Cut larger potatoes into quarters, smaller ones into halves. Place potatoes into a plastic bag and pour in 1 tablespoon of olive oil; seal bag. Shake and toss bag until potatoes are evenly coated. Pour onto a cookie sheet. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place onion slices in bag you used for potatoes. Don’t add any oil – there will be enough left in the bag. Turn until onions are coated; do not break up onion slices. Place on cookie sheet with potatoes and bake, turning once, until potatoes and onions are golden, 40 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, place tomatoes in a large bowl. To make dressing, whisk together remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and chopped basil in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Pour about one fourth of dressing over tomatoes. Set aside.

In a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat, cook bacon and brown until crispy. Drain on paper towels. When potatoes and onions are cooked, divide among 4 serving plates. Place salad greens in bowl with tomatoes and toss with remaining dressing. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper as necessary. Arrange salad greens on the serving plates. Top with bacon and sprinkle with blue cheese. I have a big square serving plate that I love for plattering salads. Load up the lettuce in the middle, and put the salad parts around the edges of the platter. Then go crazy!

I love those sweet vidalias or walla walla onions. My daughter, however, generally makes a point of what she doesn’t like….onions, mustard, and raisins, in that order. We’ve been having conversations about why its important to have little tastes of things – and she decided to try the roasted vidalias when we had the BLT salad for dinner. H asked for a taste, so I forked up a little bite and she went for it. She closed her eyes, gave it a chew, and then announced – LOUDLY – “Mom! This is absolutely…..DELICIOUS!” Victory at last. I smiled and recommended that she try another bite – this time with the tomatoes. Layering the flavors makes everything better. 

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