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.

How to Make It

Step 1

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.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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.

Step 4

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.

Step 5

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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