brunch, mains, salads

farmers’ market mondays: bacon + poached egg salad.

Miraculously, this post exists. I had a little meltdown late last week; it wasn’t a personal meltdown (surprising) but rather a technological one. It seems as though toddlers bearing large glasses of water and a high activity level don’t play well with laptop computers. Thankfully, we have an Apple store (the geeky one, not filled with apples) nearby and Mr. Table ran it up after I a) freaked out, b) cried, and c) assumed it would be at least 3 weeks until I would get it back, it would cost thousands to fix, and when I did get it back, everything would be erased. You see, people, I live by the rule that states if you worst-case-scenario every single problem, it will always turn out better thank you expected. In reality, my laptop had a short in the power input jack, it cost $50, and I had it back within 24 hours. How did I feel? Elated, and thankful I once again managed to ward off total devastation by merely overreacting. Mr. Table, you’re welcome.

I was a little worried I wouldn’t get to do Farmers’ Market Monday today. I didn’t want you to think I had fallen of the wagon of goodness already and succumbed to a sugar-filled lapse in judgement. I didn’t; in fact, this whole farmers market thing has me super excited, and it makes me even more thrilled to know you like it. Everything is so much more fun when I get such great input from all of you.

Because of the aforementioned meltdown and a Mother’s Day brunch to cook up on Saturday morning, I didn’t get a chance to try out a new farmers market this week. Too many time constraints and as you know, most markets aren’t open on Sundays. We do, however, have a tiny one (actually, there are two) nearby who are open 7 days a week, so I popped over to the closer of the two to pick up more radishes, a head of boston lettuce, and some chives. After grabbing some thick-cut bacon and blue cheese from a local meat market and swinging by my beloved up-the-street farm for some fresh eggs, I was ready to make you this week’s fresh thing: a bacon and poached egg salad with radishes and chives, all sitting atop some boston lettuce and tossed with blue cheese dressing and some white wine vinaigrette.

Obviously I made a mistake typing: did I say blue cheese dressing and some white wine vinaigrette? That’s two dressings; this is one salad. Correct: this is one salad, but a special enough one to need both dressings, made from scratch, which come together beautifully in this little number. Don’t be afraid: the vinaigrette is only there to add a little zing to the lettuce, and it’s light as air. The blue cheese is the powerhouse flavor, and a little goes a long way on this. I ended up thinning my blue cheese dressing out with a little milk, which you may choose to do as well if you’re wanting it a bit lighter.

This is, quite obviously, a hearty, satisfying salad. Go easy with the blue cheese dressing, or the combination of the egg and the dressing will be heavy. I’m thinking there are plenty of ways to modify this to make it healthier. For instance, I used a light sour cream in my blue cheese dressing, but you could use fat-free. A good quality 0% Greek yogurt (I like Fage brand) would work wonderfully as well. You could substitute turkey bacon, but you’ll lose some of that bacon-y flavor which meshes so well with both the dressings. For a slightly different take, you could use turkey breast, cut into strips, or skip the meat altogether and add some avocado slices.

I made both my dressing and my vinaigrette the night before, and it took a few minutes and barely any effort. If you’re decent at eyeing up measurements, do it: there’s nothing in either one which can’t be fixed by tasting and adding once you’ve whisked things together. I didn’t use any sort of measuring cups or spoons, which is a pleasure I only get to partake of when making non-pastry or cake items. It’s freeing, and I suspect those of you who are more used to making desserts like I am rather than savory dishes would agree.

Adapted from Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain Cookbook by Bobby Flay with Stephanie Banyas + Sally Jackson.

Bacon + Poached Egg Salad

for the salad:

  • 1/4 pound thick cut bacon (or turkey strips, see my notes above), cut crosswise into 1/4 inch strips
  • 4 large eggs (preferably fresh farm eggs, if you can get them)
  • 3-4 medium radishes, thinly sliced in circles
  • 3-4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

for the blue cheese dressing:

  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (or greek yogurt)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ounces Maytag blue cheese, crumbled (about a 1/2 cup)
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk (optional, for thinning as needed)
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

for the white wine vinaigrette:

  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

A few things, before we begin:

I made both the dressing and the vinaigrette the night before making the salad, which i liked as it gave them time to meld their flavors together and chill. I noticed my blue cheese dressing was very thick, so I thinned it out with a few tablespoons of milk prior to adding it to the plate. Also, the original recipe calls for blue cheese as a topping as well as in the dressing; I felt it overpowered the other components, so I chose to leave the extra blue cheese out. If you want to add it back in, be my guest, but you may want to go a bit easy.

Make the blue cheese dressing:

Put the buttermilk, sour cream, and lemon juice together in the bowl of  a food processor or into a blender. Blend until combined. Add the blue cheese and blend again until smooth and creamy (if you’d like it a little chunky, check it every so often until it’s the consistency you want). Season with salt and pepper, remembering that blue cheese is salty; I only added pepper, but do this according to your taste. Place in a sealed jar or container and refrigerate until ready to use. If your dressing is thick, add your tablespoon or so of milk until it reaches desired consistency.

Make the vinaigrette:

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the oil until it emulsifies, which will take a few minutes. Place in a sealed jar or container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Assemble the salad:

Cook the bacon in a medium saute pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until darker golden brown (not burnt, but crisped), about 10 minutes. This may largely depend on how “thick-cut” your bacon is, so watch it closely as it nears the end of cooking time. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to cool and de-grease.

Bring 1 quart cold water to a simmer in a large, deep saute pan. If your heat is not on medium-low, reduce it to medium low and break the eggs, one at a time, into a ramekin. Carefully slide each egg into the simmering water. Simmer until the whites are firm but the yolks are still runny, about 4 minutes. Remove carefully with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Put a dollop of the blue cheese dressing in the center of each of 4 medium to large plates. Place the lettuce leaves in a large bowl and toss with some of the vinaigrette until coated evenly. Season with salt and pepper and arrange the leaves in a cup-like fashion on top of the blue cheese dressing.

Arrange your radishes and bacon on each plate as you see fit. Add your egg, one per plate, in the center of your lettuce cup. Sprinkle a few more bacon bits and your chopped chives over top for garnish, and season with salt and pepper as needed. Drizzle with a bit more of the vinaigrette if you wish, and ring the plate with a bit more of the blue cheese around the edge.

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  • Reply Jen @ Juanita's Cocina May 14, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    I’m planning the menu for the commune. THIS would naturally be Monday.

    Also, I’m so glad your technology is working again. Because if it wasn’t, I would miss you.

    That’s all. I’m tired because it’s Monday. I have no more wittiness to share.

    Oh, except YUMMMM!

    • Reply shannon May 15, 2012 at 12:13 pm

      You’ll need to include those homemade pitas/chicken gyros, too. and that chow mein. and that sweet and sour chicken. i’ll be sure to do the pretzel jello salad.
      mondays are like that around here, too. i’m completely with you.

  • Reply Brianne May 14, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Poached egg on a salad…yes. Thank goodness your computer had minimal damage! This morning I was randomly reminiscing on the days when each of my siblings first began drinking out of big kid cups. I think I was stocking toddler-sized cups at work. It was 5:30 am. I’m weird, I know. Anyway, those were messy days.

    Also, you are one lucky lady to have a farmer’s market open every day! Ours will start 2 days a week next month. Once a week is not enough! Last weekend I loaded up on rhubarb. There weren’t many vegetables just yet. The guy ran for the sausage stand. He’s weird, too. Yay Farmer’s Market Mondays!

    • Reply shannon May 15, 2012 at 12:07 pm

      so you must be one of the oldest of your many siblings, then…i admire you for that. in big giant families like yours, the older ones always get the most work, i feel like. it’s like you get to be mini-parents for part of your childhood. i bet it was messy; around here is getting to be a little messy, and i only have the one to worry about cleaning up after.

      we are blessed with that: it’s not all of them that are open, but we do have a few, and it’s nice to have a standby. Most of them are either a wednesday/saturday or a wednesday through saturday thing. Do you feel like you have pretty good rhubarb up there? I don’t…or rather, it’s hit and miss, and mostly miss. Odd, because we typically have a great selection.

  • Reply movita beaucoup May 15, 2012 at 7:03 am

    Yesterday, mid-work day, I thought: it’s Farmer’s Market Monday!! And again, you do not disappoint. Despite that kid’s best efforts to throw you off the rails. AND TWO DRESSINGS? Genius. GENIUS!

    • Reply shannon May 15, 2012 at 12:03 pm

      to think i am thought about in the middle of a work day, by you, is quite flattering. I’m so happy the duo-dressing salad makes you excited. 🙂
      despite her best efforts, and a pretty decent strategy, the wee one didn’t derail FMM. She thinks she’s so smart, but she doesn’t know who she’s messing with. You gotta do better than that, wee sausage. maybe next time.

  • Reply Willow May 15, 2012 at 7:49 am

    Thank goodness your computer was okay! I’ve had some close calls, wringing my hands and pacing back and forth at the repair shop and desparately trying to remember the last time I backed up my files – so stressful!

    Clearly, you made a good come-back, thoug. This salad sounds amazing! In fact, I just ate a salad with poached eggs and salsa, but that dressing combination is calling to me. 😉

    • Reply shannon May 15, 2012 at 11:58 am

      poached eggs and salsa? YUM! that’s one of my favorite flavor combos…eggs and salsa just in general. 🙂 i was a little worried about the dressing combo at first (just because i didn’t want it to be a heavy salad) but it really does work together in a nice way; not heavy at all. i’m now a convert to duo dressing components and may try to experiment in the future.
      i’m happy everything worked out with the computer, too. i wish i didn’t freak out so much, but i can’t help myself. at least you know at some point you DID back up your files…i’m SO bad about that.

  • Reply Emma May 16, 2012 at 6:21 am

    I love Fage yogurt, but since I’m sneaky and fat-craving, prefer the Total Classic version. I just saw this morning that the farmer’s market in the next town over is up and running for the season – I’d hurry over today, but it will have to wait for next week, as I’m headed out of town for a few days.

    Your frightening tale of computer woes make me scurred. I’ll just move my tea cup off the couch where it was perched, and onto the nearby table ……

    • Reply shannon May 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm

      ohhhhh, the total classic version is delicious; sometimes i “accidentally” pick up that version and top it with dark honey and almonds. best snack ever. yay for the markets opening near everyone! it’s so interesting to hear what everyone’s produce looks like in different parts of the country/world.

      i know: you don’t think about it until water literally bounces in slow motion into your computer. it could have been worse, and at least now i’ve learned my lesson. accidents happen.

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