If you haven’t gotten your grill on by now, this is a great time to start. In fact, when the weather gets warm, all food prep can move outdoors to the grill which can handily stand in for your oven and stovetop. This recipe – yes, a salad – makes use of said grill. Bacon ends (the irregular cut ends of bacon that are essentially pork-candy) are cooked over the fire, and torn chunks of country style bread are toasted on the grates (after a little dip in the bacon fat, of course). Call it a carnivore’s salad delight.
BLT Salad with Avocado and Charred Croutons
Serves 4 as a main course salad
- 1 1/2 pounds bacon ends, excess fat trimmed, cut into 1-inch cubes. (Prather Ranch sells vacuum-packed bacon ends at the San Rafael Farmers’ Market. Just please leave a package for me to buy).
- 2 cups coarsely torn bite-size pieces of country-style bread
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large head red leaf lettuce, leaves washed and torn into bite-size pieces
- 4 small vine ripened tomatoes, cut into wedges
- Corn kernels cut from one ear of corn (optional)
- 1 large hass avocado, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- Prepare the grill for indirect medium heat (about 400°F for a gas grill). Arrange the bacon ends on a grill rack (or grate) set over a grill pan to capture the rendered fat. Grill until the fat is rendered and the ends are crispy golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer the ends to a plate.
- Toss the bread in the rendered fat. Spread the bread on a grill pan or the grates and grill until golden and crisp, turning as needed. Remove from the heat.
- Make the dressing: Whisk the vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Add the oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly to emulsify.
- Layer the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Add half of the dressing and toss to coat. Scatter the bacon and croutons over the salad and drizzle with additional dressing to taste. Serve immediately.
Lynda Balslev is an award-winning food writer, editor and recipe developer based in the San Francisco Bay area. She authors the nationally syndicated column and blog TasteFood, and co-authored the cookbook Almonds: Recipes, History, Culture (2015 Silver Medal Winner Independent Publisher Awards). She is the 2011 recipient of the Chronicle Books Award (Recipe Writing) to the Symposium for Professional Food Writers, and a 2018 Fellowship Award recipient to the Symposium for Wine Writers at Meadowood, Napa Valley. Lynda’s writing and photography have been recognized by the New York Times Diners Journal, the Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post and more.