Summer has finally hit the archipelago and I regret to say that it is the end of me staying cool and even-tempered for a while. The heat has made me surly and sulky; it has frizzed up my hair and darkened my skin. It has also made working in the kitchen, particularly with a hot oven, unbearable.
As a result, rather than go for toast and coffee or rice and one protein-rich viand or another (Heck, even cold cereal makes me feel ill in this weather!), I opted to make a salad. This Summer Morning Salad features a delicious combination of cut-up Romaine lettuce and diced cucumbers topped with crunchy strips of bacon and – surprise! surprise! – potato slices cooked in bacon fat till nicely browned and crunchy outside, moreishly mealy within. I dressed the lot with some store-bought honey mustard dressing to add both sweetness and sharpness to the dish.
This salad is, to be honest, disturbingly appealing: the crunch of the greens and the bacon contrasted against the soft potato, the taste of the dressing balanced by salty smokiness. And, while it is virtuously lighter than most standard breakfast fare, it is certainly satisfying and actually kept me from craving for greasy stuff throughout the day.
I mentioned the salad to some of my friends: Chi, Floyd and the Missus in London, and The Antipodean. The Missus is happy because it gives her an idea of what to serve Floyd and the kids when summer rolls around in that part of the world – and they’re all bacon-mad in that particular household. (Floyd, in fact, is of the opinion that mushrooms fried along with the spuds will make this more than perfect; plus a sprinkling of fresh-grated Pecorino.) I was not, however, prepared for The Antipodean’s reaction.
“A breakfast salad?” the homesick lad sighed albeit online earlier today.
“Yes,” I said. “Bacon, spuds, greens – the works.”
“Did you top it with a poached egg?”
“I was planning to top it with a Spanish-style fried egg – you know, sunny-side up with the edges all crisped up as puntillitas.”
I didn’t count on him sobbing like an abandoned child. Apparently, I’d more or less replicated a salad he used to order for breakfast at his friendly neighborhood cafe back home in Oz. (Save for the egg, of course.)
“Well, you could always make one…” And then, stupid me, I remembered that The Antipodean isn’t exactly capable of working in a kitchen – and it’s just his luck that his current Yankee neighborhood doesn’t have any cafes that serve salads for breakfast. “Oh, dear.”
I decided to shut up and not add insult to injury by telling him that I had a dirty chai latte to go with the salad. Oh, dear, indeed…
Summer Morning Salad
- 1-1/2 cups shredded Romaine lettuce
- 1/4 cup diced cucumber
- 2 strips bacon
- 1 small potato, unpeeled but sliced into thickish half-moons
- 1 egg (optional)
- scant 3 tablespoons store-bought honey mustard (or any fruit-based) salad dressing
Fry the bacon in a non-stick pan until crisp; drain, reserving the fat, and set aside. Fry the potatoes in the bacon fat until golden-brown and crisp at the edges; remove from the pan. If desired, you can fry an egg in the remaining fat.
Place the greens and cucumber on a dinner plate and top with the bacon, potatoes, and – if you want one – the fried egg. Pour the dressing over it and toss well till the bacon is all bashed up and the greens are well-coated with dressing.