Bacon Fest 2010: Beet and Bacon Salad
I did have a vegetarian brave the bacon fest, so I wanted to make sure there were bacon-optional choices for her. And I had some gorgeous beets on hand from the farmers’ market, so I decided to build something around them.
It was nice to have a lighter bacon dish, since this feast could easily have turned into a gut-buster. This is somewhat cobb-like, in that it has the bacon and gorgonzola. I almost went all the way and added hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, and etc., but the beets were so amazing, that I really didn’t want to overwhelm them. I think that the biggest trick to learn in cooking is knowing when to stop. Knowing when you’ve reached the perfect balance of flavors, and just stop. Let the personality of each flavor you do use have its chance to shine. It’s very Italian, this idea–or at least, that’s where I learned it. It feels like a certain intimacy with flavors–knowing what they work well with and when to push them out of their comfort zone. And when to just let them be.
As I cut them into chunks and held the fleshy purple pieces, I was mesmerized by the striations. The more time I spend looking at food and photographing it, the more obsessed I become with how beautiful it is. Beets completely enchant me: the fact that such a deep, heart-pumping red color occurs naturally, the color play in the different varieties. What would I do without the farmers’ markets? At the grocery store, a beet’s a beet. There’s no nod to the nuances they are capable of.
We had some beet detractors at the party (ahem, Angela and Pedro), but I thought they were delicate and sweet–a good complement to the bacon. The dish overall felt very earthy, with a jazzy finish provided by the mint and the grapefruit. Pretty tasty.
They look so humble.
Until you open them. Gorgeous.
Beet and Bacon Salad
6 medium beets
4 garlic cloves, skins on
2 or 3 springs of rosemary
1 bag of baby spinach
6 oz. gorgonzola
1/2 large grapefruit, peeled and cut into wedges
1 lb. bacon
For the vinaigrette
1/2 large grapefruit
mint leaves from 2 or 3 sprigs
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
plus, the garlic that you roasted with the beets
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Peel and chop the beets into equal-sized wedges, maybe about 1/2 an inch each. Add to a baking pan or sheet with the garlic cloves (unpeeled), then toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Cook until they are tender, about 35 minutes. Set aside to come to cool.
Fry the bacon and drain on paper towels. Chop into chunks.
Build the salad: Spinach, beets, gorgonzola, grapefruit wedges. I put the bacon in a separate dish to make the salad veg-friendly.
To make the vinaigrette, peel and add the roasted garlic to the bowl of a food processor. Add the vinegars and juice from the grapefruit, mint, salt, and pepper. Begin to pulse the mixture while drizzling in the olive oil (with the lid on, unless you are using a chopper–then it’s fine to just add the olive oil to the base mixture). Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
Toss all together.
This is what my fridge looked like for awhile. Mesmerizing.