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Romaine, Bacon & Tomato Salad with Croutons & Tarragon Vinaigrette

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Serves four.

  • by Lori Longbotham from Fine Cooking
    Issue 94

Romaine lends a crisp texture to this salad, but it’s equally tasty with small leaves of butter lettuce.

  • 5 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 cups 1-inch-square bread cubes (cut from 1/2-inch-thick slices of sturdy bread)
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tsp. tarragon vinegar or other white-wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 romaine lettuce hearts, sliced crosswise into 1-inch pieces, washed, and spun dry (about 6 lightly packed cups)
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

Cook the bacon over medium heat in a 12-inch nonstick skillet, stirring frequently until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels.

Pour off and discard the bacon fat from the skillet. Heat 1 Tbs. of the oil in the skillet over medium heat. Add the bread and cook, stirring, for 5 to 7 minutes, until crisp on the outside and lightly browned. Transfer to the plate with the bacon to cool.

Coarsely chop the garlic and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt. Using the flat side of a chef's knife, mash the garlic to a paste.

Heat the remaining 2 Tbs. oil in the skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic paste and the shallot and cook, stirring, just until the garlic is fragrant and the shallot softens a bit, 30 seconds; don't let the garlic brown. Transfer to a large bowl, add the parsley, vinegar, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper and stir until well combined.

Add the romaine and tomatoes to the bowl and toss with the dressing. Add the bacon and croutons, season to taste with more salt, and toss again. Serve immediately.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 200; Fat (g): 14; Fat Calories (kcal): 130; Saturated Fat (g): 2.5; Protein (g): 6; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 9; Carbohydrates (g): 14; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5; Sodium (mg): 590; Cholesterol (mg): 10; Fiber (g): 2;

Photo: Scott Phillips

This was a really good salad. It would be something like you would get at a nice restaurant. It would be delicious with avocado added too. I am going to make the croutons again but add Penzeys fox point seasoning on the croutons along with garlic and pepper. Definitely a winner!

Excellent salad recipe. The croutons are much less salty than the ones you buy in the store. I ended up using twice the amount of olive oil recommended to cook them though.

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