june 7, 2013
In the clear light of an early summer morning, just-picked local produce is pristine in appearance and calls forth the cook’s desire to improvise. What can be created from the bounty of tables and baskets overflowing with homegrown goodness?
Attending The Farmer’s Market at St. Stephen’s here in Richmond last weekend, there was a sense of excitement about what was in store. Hungry, I had fabulous flank steak and pork belly tacos from the Boka Truck and shopped the stalls. It didn’t take long for inspiration to strike. Salads, especially those grand in size and selection of ingredients, make the perfect meal. Even for breakfast.
Today’s breakfast bistro salad is my take on the classic Salade Lyonnaise , starring in bistro and cafe menus across the pond and here in the States, and generally comprised of frisee lettuce, poached egg, bacon lardons, crunchy croutons and a dijon mustard shallot dressing.
In my version, potatoes reign supreme over bread, the eggs are boiled instead of poached and I add asparagus because we are nearing the end of local asparagus season and I simply cannot get enough. The market yielded velvety asparagus spears and tiny new red potatoes from F.J. Medina and Sons Farm. The lovely Robin from Harmony Hill Farm had run out of their tasty bacon, but lucky, lucky me snagged one of the last packs from my local Little House Green Grocery, where I also found pastured eggs from Polyface Farm.
If you have only tasted supermarket eggs boiled or poached, you are missing the genuine golden radiance of naturally raised eggs, with their creamy and especially flavorful yolk and silky white. There is no comparison. Period.
If you like shortcuts, make the vinaigrette up to a week in advance, boil the eggs the day before and enjoy them chilled, and use precooked bacon. You will miss out on the sublime taste of potatoes roasted in bacon fat, but extra virgin olive oil will do fine.
This is a weekend breakfast or brunch, designed to be lovingly prepared when you have time to linger. Imagine your breakfast salad taken al fresco in the dappled shade of your back yard, iced coffee in a tall glass nearby, and, if you really want to channel your inner francophile, toast up a crispy baguette and slather on the local fruit preserves.
breakfast bistro salad
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
4 thick slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
8 small new red potatoes, unpeeled and cut into quarters
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch diagonals
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 T white balsamic vinegar
1 T finely minced shallot
1 T coarse dijon mustard
5 T extra virgin olive oil
4 generous cups tender lettuce, washed and torn
4 eggs, preferably pastured
cook’s note : I use the Joy of Cooking method for boiling eggs, lowering the eggs into gently simmering water, and after bringing back to simmer, cooking for about six to seven minutes for a soft yolk and firm white
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In heavy ovenproof skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until golden brown and crisp; remove to drain on paper towel.
- Pour off all but about 1 T bacon fat, and toss potatoes in skillet to coat.
- Bake for 15 minutes, turn potatoes with spatula and add asparagus, turning to coat.
- Meanwhile, boil eggs to desired doneness (see cook’s note) and after running under tap water to stop cooking, peel and slice in quarters.
- After about 15 more minutes, when asparagus is crisp-tender, sprinkle mixture with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
- Make vinaigrette : whisk vinegar with mustard and shallot, then slowly whisk in olive oil until emulsified.
- In large mixing bowl, toss lettuce with just enough vinaigrette to coat, and divide greens among plates.
- Divide asparagus and potatoes among plates, sprinkle with reserved bacon and top with eggs.
- Drizzle vinaigrette atop salads and serve immediately.