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After a week during which my kitchen felt like an apple cake factory, I figured it was time for a salad. So I took the concepts behind escarole salad with warm bacon dressing and pear and blue cheese salad -- two salads I love -- and combined them. I crisped bacon in a pan, then sauteed shallots and figs, and finished the dressing with red wine vinegar and a little sugar. The warm dressing softens the lettuce leaves (I used curly endive but you could use escarole, arugula or romaine). And for a little salinity to contrast with the sweet figs, I crumbled some blue cheese on top.
Warm Fig and Blue Cheese Salad
- 6 cups curly endive, escarole, arugula or romaine, cut into 2-inch-long pieces
- 4 thick slices bacon, cut into small cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 8 ripe black Mission figs, halved
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1. Pile the endive into a large serving bowl. Place a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and fry until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the pan and pour off all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat.
2. Add the olive oil, followed by the shallots. Let cook for 1 minute, then move the shallots to one side of the pan. Lay the figs, cut side down in the other half of the pan. You want the figs to just warm through and lightly toast on the edges, about 2 minutes. Control the heat so the shallots don't brown. Remove the figs to a plate. Add the vinegar and sugar to the pan and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the mustard.
3. Pour the shallot mixture over the greens. Add the bacon. Season with salt and pepper and toss until the greens are well coated and beginning to soften on the edges. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add the figs and sprinkle with blue cheese.