Strawberry-Bacon Salad for a Cheating Vegetarian

salad with dressing

“I am a vegetarian. But I also love bacon. And the only thing more satisfying than being a vegetarian is being a cheating vegetarian!” Sonia Mena, 2011.

Strawberries and bacon are the perfect complement to each other, sweet and salty, juicy and crunchy. I throw in some raw pecans and sprinkle everything over a bowlful of salad greens. Then I toss them with a strawberry-balsamic dressing flavored with black pepper and rosemary. A cheating vegetarian couldn’t ask for more!

For healthiest results, use organic or non-pesticide strawberries and greens and nitrate-free bacon (I found some at Trader Joe’s)

This makes 2 dinner salads or one large salad for lunch.

strawberries, bacon and pecans

Ingredients:

Salad:
1 slice bacon
3 ripe strawberries
¼ cup (or one handful) whole raw pecans
2 heaping cups of salad greens

Salad dressing:
2 small soft very ripe strawberries
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp water

a few few grinds of black pepper

a few needles rosemary, minced
1 Tb extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
salad without dressing

Salad:Fry bacon over medium heat until well done. Drain on paper towels. Crumble when cool enough to handle.
Rinse greens and strawberries. Put greens in bowls; either one large or two smaller bowls. Sprinkle pecans and crumbled bacon over greens. Slice strawberries over salad.

Dressing: Slice over-ripe strawberries into a blender bowl and add rosemary, black pepper, and balsamic vinegar and water. Run on liquefy until strawberries are mostly liquefied. Add olive oil and run on liquefy until oil emulsifies. Pour over salad and toss so that it coats the greens.

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Chili-Cheese-Bacon Cornbread

piece of cornbread

This rich, moist cornbread is flavorful with charred poblano chili, sharp cheddar cheese and bacon grease. The guilty pleasure of bacon grease is balanced by the healthy addition of olive oil! Sweetened with applesauce. Bake in the cast iron skillet used for frying the bacon.

baked pan of cornbread

Ingredients:

chili cheese
1 cup 1% milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 large poblano chili
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp paprika
1 cup cornmeal
½ cup unsweetened applesauce (I buy the little plastic containers.)
2 Tb bacon grease, melted but not hot, made from 3 slices bacon.
2 Tb olive oil
2 eggs

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425◦ and place rack in middle position.
Add vinegar to milk and let it curdle while you mix the other ingredients.

sweating poblano chili

Place poblano chili on comal or heavy frying pan over high heat, turning so that it burns in places. Place in a small covered pot to sweat.

While chili is sweating, grate 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese and set aside.

bacon frying

Fry 3 pieces of bacon in a cast-iron skillet. Eat the bacon or add it to frijoles pintos, but save the grease. It should yield 2 Tb of bacon grease. Add the olive oil to the pan, and then scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. Cool while preparing the other ingredients.

Sift white flour with baking powder, salt, paprika, and baking soda into a medium bowl. Stir in cornmeal until well combined.

miniced poblano chili

Remove poblano chili from pot and scrape off the blackened skin. (Don’t rinse it, since you’ll be rinsing away some of charred flavor.) Mince the chili. Include the seeds if you like more heat.

Whisk eggs with milk in a separate bowl, then whisk in applesauce and bacon-oil mixture, including the browned bits of bacon.
Stir in minced poblano chili and ¾ cup cheese.
Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Slowly mix and fold with a large spoon, only until batter is combined.

sprinkle cheese on top

Pour batter into the skillet that you fried the bacon in. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup cheese on top.
Bake for 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

cornbread and frijoles

Excellent served with frijoles pintos.

2 Spinach & Vegetable Quiches

What do I do when I buy a huge bag of spinach leaves on sale for only $1.87?
First I make a lot of spinach salads including Raspberry Pecan Salad, then spinach over easySpanakopita, Lebanese Spinach Pies, and throw it in Linguine with Prawns, and then I make spinach quiche. 
Since there’s so much spinach, I made a few quiches and experimented with the ingredients. I used 6 cups of spinach per quiche, and added half the spinach at a time so it would fit in the pan. It wilts quickly so you can add the rest after a couple of minutes. Of course you can make these quiches with frozen spinach. I won’t tell anyone.
 
I made the crust using pie crust and the same custard for Broccoli and Veggie
 
Quiche
First make the custard. You can use this custard for either quiche.
 Custard:
Whisk together until well blended:
3/4 cup warm milk (heat in microwave in a glass measuring cup)
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
a few shakes pepper
For each quiche, I used 6 cups fresh spinach. Here are two variations:
 quiche w slice out
Spinach Quiche with mushrooms, bacon and red bell pepper: (This can be made without bacon and still satisfy!)
2 tsp olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
½ red bell pepper, chopped
3 large white mushrooms, sliced
2 pieces crumbled bacon (discard fat)
2 one-inch sprigs finely minced rosemary
1 cup grated Jarlsberg cheese
1 egg for painting crust
 
Preheat oven to 425◦Sauté red onion and red bell pepper in olive oil until they soften. Add sliced mushrooms and rosemary. When mushrooms are soft, transfer vegetables to a bowl.

Add 6 cups spinach to the pan, cooking over low heat until spinach wilts. Transfer to a colander and press the water from the spinach. When spinach is cool enough to handles, pick it up and squeeze all the water out of the spinach. Mix it with the bacon and the other vegetables.

Cover the pie crust with parchment or foil and weigh it down with pie weights or beans on top. Blind bake crust for 15 minutes at 425◦

Remove from oven and paint an beaten egg on the bottom of the crust to prevent sogginess. Add leftover egg to custard. Bake for another 5 minutes to set the egg and brown the sides of the crust.

Lower oven temperature to 375◦

IMG_3922

Place the pie crust on a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet lined with foil. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of the Jarlsberg cheese on bottom of pie crust, reserving a few tablespoons.

IMG_3927-1

Put the vegetable mixture on top. Pour the custard over it until it’s about 1/2 inch below the top of the crust. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Pour custard over vegetables. Sprinkle with reserved Jarlsberg cheese. Cover with a pie shield to protect crust from burning.

IMG_3928

Bake for 40 min in 375◦ oven until top begins to brown and an inserted knife comes out clean. Cool before eating.

IMG_3930
 
 
Spinach Quiche with Rainbow Roasted Vegetables and feta
 quiche in tart pan
You can make this in a pie pan or a tart pan.
 6 cups fresh spinach or 1 cup frozen spinach
I cup Rainbow Roasted Vegetables, chopped
3 Tb crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup grated Jarlsberg cheese. (You can substitute Swiss cheese, but I like the nutty taste of Jarlsberg)
1 egg for painting crust
Custard:
Whisk together until well blended:
1 cup warm milk
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
a pinch of white pepper
 Preheat oven to 375◦
Wilt spinach and remove with a slotted spoon, squeezing out liquid, and place in a medium bowl. If using frozen spinach, microwave with a little drizzle of water, then drain in a sieve, squeezing all the liquid out. This is important if you don’t want a waterlogged quiche!
Stir in roasted vegetables and crumbled feta cheese.
 pie crust with parchment and pie weights
Place parchment paper or foil on top of the crust and cover with ceramic pie weights or beans to prevent the crust from puffing up.  Blind bake the crust for 15 minutes at 425. 
Remove the pie weights and parchment.
Paint an egg on the bottom of the crust to prevent sogginess. Add leftover egg to custard.
egg baked on crust
Bake again for 5 minutes to set the egg.
Let cool on a rack for a few minutes.
 Sprinkle most of the Jarlsberg cheese on bottom of pie crust, reserving a few tablespoons.

Add spinach,vegetable and feta mixture

Pour custard  over vegetables.Sprinkle reserved Jarlsberg cheese on top.Cover the edges of the pan with a pie sheld to prevent the edges from getting burned.Bake for 30 min in 375◦ oven until top begins to brown and an inserted knife comes out clean. Cool to room temperature before eating.quiche slice