By Emily Stimpson Chapman
Emily Stimpson Chapman is the award-winning author of several books, including The Catholic Table: Finding Joy Where Food and Faith Meet. Find more recipes on her blog, The Catholic Table.
It was supposed to be a simple dinner. It was supposed to be quick, easy, and nothing about which I had to fret my little head . . . which is full up with fret these days because, as usual, I’ve taken on too much work. Supposed to be, supposed to be, supposed to be.
Actually, in one way, it was simple. It was simply a disaster.
Here’s what happened.
My now-husband Chris came over for dinner. The original plan was pizza margarita, with some kind of warm side salad. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of using a frozen pizza dough I’d never tried before. Yes, I know I could have made my own dough. Yes, I know that would have been easier and healthier and yada, yada, yada. But I’ve been trying to cook from the overflowing freezer this month, and my roommate had purchased the dough a while back. It needed to be used.
Anyhow, the dough was apparently made with superglue, as it stuck to everything it touched: the counter, the pizza paddle, my hands. I couldn’t move it off the counter in one piece, let alone get it on the pizza stone. It was your basic kitchen nightmare, with sauce and cheese flying and the oven smoking and me crying. Poor Chris.
In the end, after employing a few choice words, I just folded the stupid thing in half, threw it in the oven, and called it strombolli. It was…fine.
But the salad?
The salad was warm. It was crunchy. It was bacony, savory goodness incarnate. Really, it was everything a winter salad should be. It was also the most random thing I’ve thrown together all month, an assembly of odd vegetables and other ingredients that just needed using up.
The only problem was that it wasn’t big enough. We wanted more.
In the two other times I’ve made it since then (yes, that makes three times in less than a week…I told you we really like it), I’ve corrected that problem. I’ve also become more exacting about the proportions so you can replicate my concoction at home and have your own warm, crunchy, bacony, super healthy winter salad.
Roasted Potato, Bacon, and Kale Salad
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 35 Minutes
- 1 large baking potato
- 2 handfuls of green beans
- 1 medium-sized sweet onion, thinly sliced
- 4 strips of bacon
- 4 handfuls of baby kale
- 3 Tablespoons of olive oil, plus more for dressing the salad
- 1 Tablespoon Butter
- 4-5 large cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- Freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan (optional)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly cracked pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Thinly slice, then quarter the unpeeled potato. In a mixing bowl, toss potato pieces with 2 tablespoons of oil, 3 garlic cloves, 2 pinches of salt, and a smattering of pepper. Scatter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment, leaving room at one end for the beans.
- Place in hot oven and set the timer for 15 minutes.
- While the potatoes are cooking, fry 4 pieces of bacon on the stove. Set aside, reserving 1 tablespoon of bacon grease.
- Snap ends off of green beans. In a mixing bowl, toss the beans, remaining garlic, 1 tablespoon of oil, one pinch of salt, and a smattering of pepper.
- When the timer goes off, add the beans to the baking sheet in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes more.
- While the vegetables continue cooking, heat the reserved bacon grease and the butter in a frying pan; add onion slices and turn the heat down to low. Allow the onions to caramelize, stirring frequently. This should take the full 20 minutes.
- When the vegetables are done, assemble the salad. Put about two large handfuls of baby kale on a plate. Evenly divide the potatoes, beans, onions, and bacon and place on top of kale. Drizzle with olive oil, add a pinch of salt, and top with freshly grated cheese.
- I used baby kale because…it’s easy. And tasty. If you can’t find any, however, regular old kale chopped up will do almost as well.
- I’m a simple girl when it comes to dressing my salads: oil, salt, and that’s it. This salad has so much savory goodness going on that it doesn’t need much more. Plus, I have some fancy, schmancy oil on hand at the present moment, and I need excuses to use it. But, if you prefer something a little more complicated, a warm bacon dressing would probably pair beautifully with it.
- Don’t rush the onions. Caramelizing requires lots of time , but the results are so much tastier than frying them up fast. But, worry not, you can do other things while they’re getting all golden and buttery: discipline the kids, do some dishes, drink wine. This is actually the most relaxing part of cooking the salad. Enjoy it.
- You can, of course, use more than 2 slices of bacon per person. I’m just trying to sound reasonable here.
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Every one of us has to eat. Some of us eat too much food. Or we eat too little. Sometimes we eat without gratitude, without charity, or without respect. But, as award-winning author Emily Stimpson Chapman explains in The Catholic Table, with a sacramental worldview, the supernatural gift of God’s grace can transform and heal us through the food we make, eat, and share.