When I was little, I used to beg my dad to make his wilted salad. It contained lettuce, spinach, mushrooms, red onion, bacon, hard boiled egg and sometimes diced tomatoes. The trick that gave this salad its amazing flavor was the dressing. He’d mix red wine vinegar into the bacon fat, heat that on the stove for about a minute, and then pour it over the greens. They would wilt in a bath of flavorful saturated fat, and the result was a little taste of heaven. (It had to be if a kid was begging for salad in those days!)
Nowadays, you’d have to be a true rebel to want to soak your healthy greens in bacon grease, right? So, I had given up on eating my dad’s beloved wilted salad. The same ingredients could be tossed together, but without the true dressing, the flavor would never be the same. Then one day, I was shopping at Ralphs and for some reason I wound up looking at the bacon – rather odd since I don’t purchase or eat bacon. On the shelf was an Applewood Farms uncured turkey bacon. Well, you know what I was thinking, because turkey bacon has always resembled cardboard more than bacon. I had a feeling about this product, though, so I hid it at the bottom of the cart under the leafy kale and the organic baby salad greens, and proceeded to the register.
My secret for this salad also became the bacon. I laid 3 pieces (each 30 calories) out on the grill pan, and I carefully spread a few drops of Grade A Pure Maple Syrup on each slice. I spread it with a pastry brush until every centimeter was coated, and I cooked the bacon until it was brown. Once it was cooled and drained, I took a nibble. There it was, the sweetness that had been missing from any prior attempts to make a healthy modern version of my dad’s wilted salad.
I also made croutons by cubing a slice of Ezekiel Sesame Seed Sprouted Bread (the green labeled variety) and browning those in the pan where I had cooked the bacon. If you can’t eat wheat or are counting your carbs, you may want to omit this step. I will give a wheat-free option that will deliver just as much amazing crunch as any crouton could.
Makes 2 salad meals or 4 side salads
1/2 bunch of red leaf lettuce, washed and patted dry
2 cups organic baby spinach leaves (I use Organic Girl)
2 eggs, hard boiled
8 button or Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced thin, each slice cut in half to make crescent shaped slices
3-4 slices of uncured turkey bacon
Grade A pure maple syrup to spread over bacon
1 diced Roma or plum tomato (optional)
1/2 sweet red bell pepper, diced (optional)
2 slices Ezekiel Sesame Seed Sprouted Grain Bread, cubed
(wheat free option)
1/2 cup sliced jicama
2 tbsp. sliced almonds
1 tbsp. sunflower seed kernels
1. Submerge room temperature eggs in water and bring water to a soft, rolling boil. Cook eggs over medium heat for approximately 17 minutes.
2. Place bacon slices on a grill pan that has been heated over a medium flame. Gently brush a few drops of Grade A pure maple syrup over one side of each slice of bacon with a pastry brush. Cook each side until browned.
3. In a large bowl, toss the vegetable ingredients.
4. If you are making the croutons, cube two slices of sprouted bread by cutting them into strips horizontally and vertically. Add a teaspoonful of coconut oil or grape seed oil to the grill pan that just cooked the bacon (without washing it) and brown the croutons. Stir them around the pan continuously and remove them as soon as they start to brown. You may have to turn some stubborn cubes over in order to cook both sides, others will cooperate and flip as you stir.
5. Place browned croutons on a piece of paper towel to remove any excess oil. Once cool, toss the croutons into the salad.
6. If you are not adding croutons, toss in the jicama slices, almond slices and sunflower seeds.
7. Add the dressing of your choice. Toss all ingredients together to combine the flavors well.
8. Serve salad in small bowls for side salad, or large bowls for a salad meal.
Notes: Do not use an immitation syrup to coat the bacon. If you do, you might as well just dump some white sugar on top of the turkey bacon slices. I know that you know that, but I’m just saying it anyway.
This salad has enough flavor to omit the dressing, but a vinegar and lemon juice dressing or vinegar and oil dressing is a perfect match for the tender spinach and egg. The salad is pictured with a sweet Maui onion dressing. I browned some Maui onion slices, then added vinegar, oil and a pinch of hot mustard powder, and combined it in my blender. Cracked pepper adds the perfect topping. Simply delicious!
Adjust this salad for your particular eating plan. It’s easy to add, omit or substitute.