Poached Egg & Bacon Salad

As I write this, it is bright and sunny outside. Sadly, I’m listening to NPR talk about nuclear radiation exposure but the sun light, instead of the days of grey and rain that were predicted for this week, is making me happy. So to keep up the good, positive feelings, I’m thinking about other things that make me happy: lazy Sunday visits to the farmer’s market, my dog sitting by my side, resting his head on my lap, this salad…

This is my all time favorite salad. French in origin, Lyon, I suppose if you want to be exact, it’s one I turn to again and again for dinners since it’s hearty, combining proteins and salad greens all in one dish. It’s great for cold winter and early spring nights when you need something comforting but long for the bright colors of summer. It traditionally calls for the soft creams and greens of frisee, but I love the versatility of this salad, using whatever greens you have on hand. In this instance, I used some mache, or lamb’s lettuce, found at the farmer’s market one Sunday afternoon in West Seattle.

Mache is a tender but oh so pretty salad green. It makes me think of fields of clover and its taste to me is a blend of floral and bitter notes. I decided to keep playing on the springness of this salad by using green onions instead of the traditional shallot slices. With some bright red teardrop grape tomatoes on hand, I halved them and sprinkled them raw on this salad instead of sauteeing them with mushrooms in the rendered bacon fat like I would with a more wintery version of this salad. A quick dressing of mustard, lemon juice, and red wine vinegar, was made and drizzled on top of the vegetables before topping each plate with crumbles of bacon and two poached eggs, yolks still heavenly runny.

Think salad can’t make you happy? I instantly feel better just looking at this salad. Think how much better it feels to dig in, breaking that yolk and letting it softly enfold each tender lettuce green.

Note: Normally I top this salad with homemade garlicky croutons, but I thought that the toasted bread cubes might clash with how delicate the mache was in this salad. No worries– I just served some crusty garlic bread on the side. This makes two entree-sized salads.

  • 1 large bunch mache, stems trimmed of root ends if still attached, lightly washed and spun dry
  • 4 strips thick cut bacon, cut into 1/4 inch wide lardons
  • olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • splash red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of dried thyme
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced into rounds
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 eggs
  • splash white wine vinegar

Add about 2 teaspoons of olive oil to a medium skillet. Coat the pan with the oil then add the bacon lardons. Cook over medium heat until bacon is crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Whisk together lemon juice, honey, mustard, red wine vinegar, thyme, about 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking until dressing emulsifies, about 4-5 tablespoons. Plate the mache and sprinkle green onions and tomato halves on top. Drizzle with most of the dressing.

Crack the eggs carefully, one in each of 4 small bowls. Fill a large skillet about 3/4 of the way and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Add about 2 teaspoons of salt and a splash of white wine vinegar. Turn off the heat, and carefully, but quickly add the eggs to the hot water, spacing them apart so that the whites of each egg can congeal around their own yolks. Place a tight fitting lid on the skillet and set timer for just shy of three minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove eggs, in order of how you set them, and carefully place eggs, drained of excess cooking water on salad greens, two per plate. Sprinkle bacon on top and drizzle with a little more dressing before serving.


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