The recent good weather has been the perfect opportunity to start making salads. I love salads, as they are a chance to get creative, and really use up anything you have in the fridge. They can be cold, warm, or a combination of both, and you can really adapt them to suit the type of meal you’re in the mood for.
In my opinion, the English do salads all wrong. Bags of salad from the supermarket are bland, and are far from a showcase of ingredients, which is exactly what a salad should be. However, it’s not always easy or practical to buy fresh ingredients from a local supplier. Therefore, I have put this recipe together as an example of how you can really pimp a salad to make a proper meal of one.
One of the really key parts to boosting a salad is the dressing. In this one, I use a simple combination of olive oil, mustard, and lemon, with some salt and pepper. The most important thing I’ve learned about dressing a salad is to keep it simple and minimal – you want to coat the leaves, not drown them. The recipe only makes just over a tablespoon of dressing, which is more than enough to coat a generous portion of salad for two people. Just make sure you use your hands to dress it, as this way you can ensure all the leaves and other vegetables have a light coating.
Smoky Potato and Bacon Salad
This recipe serves two generously, and takes around 40 minutes to make.
You will need:
- Approx. 300g new potatoes
- 6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, cut into pieces
- 5 garlic cloves, left whole in their skins
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard (whatever type you like, but for this I prefer French)
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
- 2 eggs
- Salad vegetables and herbs – I use gem lettuce, spinach leaves, radishes, cucumber, tomatoes, and chives
- Handful of padron peppers
- Flaky smoked sea salt (optional)
Preheat your oven to 200°C (180°C Fan/Gas Mark 6/400°F).
Start by cutting your potatoes in half (or quarters if they are larger). Put in a roasting tin or a baking tray, drizzle with a little splash of olive oil and place in the oven. After 10 minutes, remove from the oven and sprinkle over your bacon pieces and garlic cloves – make sure the bacon is covering the potatoes, as they will help them to brown nicely and take in some of the smoky bacon flavour. Put back in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients:
Place the eggs in a pan of boiling water for 6-7 minutes. Once cooked, remove from the heat and plunge into ice cold water, or run under a tap until cooled. Peel and slice into quarters.
Prepare your salad vegetables by washing and drying them well. Then chop into nice bitesized pieces.
Make the dressing by combining 1 tablespoon of olive oil with 1 teaspoon of mustard, a squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and plenty of freshly cracked black pepper. Use a fork to whisk until combined, taste, and adjust the seasoning until you are happy.
By this point, the potatoes should be soft all the way through and golden, and the bacon crisp. Set to one side to cool slightly before using.
Heat a griddle pan and add the padron peppers – they will start to soften and the skins will blister and go black in places. If you don’t have a griddle pan, you can simply place them under a hot grill, just be sure to keep a close eye on them.
Then, you can assemble the salad. Using your hands, toss the salad vegetables in the dressing until everything is lightly coated. Tip onto a plate, and top with the potatoes, bacon, and garlic cloves. Finish by topping with the pieces of egg and the padron peppers.
I like to sprinkle a little smoked flaky sea salt over the top to really finish it off, but Maldon sea salft flakes work well, or none at all. Serve as a side, or as a main with chunks of bread and olive oil for dipping.