This salad offers a plethora of contrasting flavors and textures: tangy goat cheese and slightly bitter frisée, creamy beans, juicy tomatoes and crisp croutons--all tossed with a warm bacon dressing.The tender white leaves from the center of a head of chicory or escarole are a good substitute for the frisée.
1 cup dried navy beans--picked over, rinsed and soaked overnight in 4 cups of cold water
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
2 cups cubed crustless peasant bread (3/4 inch)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 pound thick-sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4 -inch strips
3 large shallots, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound frisée, torn into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 pound mild goat cheese, crumbled into 1-inch pieces
How to Make It
Drain and rinse the beans. In a medium saucepan, combine the beans with the bay leaf, garlic and 4 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to moderately low, cover partially and simmer the beans until tender but not mushy, about 1 hour; add 1/2 teaspoon salt 10 minutes before they are done. Drain the beans and let cool to room temperature. Discard the bay leaf and garlic.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°. Toss the bread cubes with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil and arrange in a single layer in a baking dish. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until golden but not dry.
In a nonreactive medium skillet, fry the bacon over moderately high heat until crisp. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the fat in the skillet. Add the shallots and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to brown, about 7 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
In a large bowl, toss the frisée with the beans, bacon, toasted croutons and tomatoes. Add the dressing and toss. Add the goat cheese and toss gently but thoroughly. Serve immediately.
Wine Recommendation: The garlicky, smoky flavors suggest a dry white, and the goat cheese narrows the choice to a tart, crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Look for the 1994 Flora Springs Soliloquy or the 1993 Grgich Hills Fumé Blanc, both from California.
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