Growing up in Iowa meant corn on the cob and BLT sandwiches come dinnertime. For this delicious adaptation of a BLT, we chopped up the sandwich and added some crisp croutons, for a salad substantial enough to call dinner.
This recipe was featured as part of our Tomatoes! photo gallery.
1 (6-ounce) slab bacon
2 cups ciabatta or other country-style bread (such as sourdough batard), large dice
6 ounces spinach, torn into bite-size pieces (about 5 cups)
1 pound heirloom tomatoes, large dice
2 medium shallots, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning the croutons
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Place bacon in the freezer for at least 5 minutes to firm up (this will make it easier to cut).
Heat a large frying pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Remove bacon from the freezer and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Cut each slice into lardons (1/2-inch-by-1-1/2-inch pieces). Line a plate with several layers of paper towels; set aside.
Add lardons to the pan and cook, stirring rarely, until browned and most of the fat has been rendered, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to the paper-towel-lined plate and let cool.
Remove 1/2 of the bacon fat to a heatproof bowl and reserve. Return the pan to medium heat, add bread, and toss to coat in bacon fat. Cook, stirring frequently, until bread is toasted and lightly browned but not hard to the touch, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the paper-towel-lined plate with the bacon and season croutons with salt.
In a large bowl, toss together bacon, croutons, spinach, and tomatoes; set aside.
Return the pan to medium heat and add reserved bacon fat. Add shallots, salt, and pepper and sauté until shallots are just tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in vinegar, scraping the bottom of the pan with a spatula to incorporate any browned bits into the dressing. Remove from heat and drizzle dressing over salad, toss to combine, and season with more salt and pepper as necessary.
Beverage pairing:Qupé Bien Nacido Vineyard “Y” Block Chardonnay, California. This savory salad could work with any number of peppy white wines or even a light, high-acid red. But its origins in comfort food suggest a nice pairing would be a “comfort wine” such as Chardonnay. Bob Lindquist, who makes this Chardonnay, is most famous as a producer of Rhône-like California Syrah. But whether he’s making red or white, it’s his taste for a balanced, unadorned, highly expressive style that makes his wines stand out.