Greed

It happened again. For the second time, watching a TV series I was stuck with pure greed. And it was while watching Jamie doing the French Pyrenees that I started salivating while he was assembling a beautiful rustic French salad.

From that to the supermarket and I was cooking it in my minimalist kitchen in the blink of an eye. The man is evil, as I have already mentioned, it makes you want to cook everything he does. And he did it before in the chapter on Andalusia for which I indulged in lovely, very garlicky aioli.

I guess I’ll stop talking and I’d better leave you with this and a request: please, make it. You will think of me in a very nice way when you’ve finished eating it.

Roquefort salad with warm croutons and lardons

Ingredients:

• olive oil
• 250g piece of smoked bacon,
the best quality you can
afford, rind removed
• 2 thick slices of sourdough
bread, cut into 1cm pieces
• 4 large handfuls of lamb’s
lettuce, watercress or rocket,
washed and spun dry
• 2 large handfuls of radicchio,
washed and spun dry
• a large handful of shelled
walnut halves, sliced
• a bunch of fresh chives,
finely chopped
• 100g Roquefort cheese
For the dressing
• 6 tablespoons extra
virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons red
wine vinegar
• 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
• sea salt and freshly ground
black pepper

Put a large frying pan on a high heat, and once hot, add a good couple of lugs of olive oil. Cut your bacon into thick 1cm lardons (have a look at the picture – that’s roughly the size your croutons and bacon should be), and add to the pan. Fry, stirring occasionally, for around 3 minutes, or until you’ve got a good bit of colour on the bacon and a lot of the fat has rendered out. Turn the heat down a little and add your bread to the pan, making sure you spread the croutons out so they take on some colour. Fry for another 3 minutes, or until they’ve sucked up all the wonderful flavour and are lovely, crisp and golden.

Put the extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and a good pinch of salt and pepper into a clean jam jar. Put the lid on and give it a shake, then have a taste and make sure you’ve got the balance right. You want it to be slightly too acidic at this stage, as you’ll get quite a bit of saltiness from the bacon and French dressings tend to be quite sharp.

Once your dressing is made, get everyone around the table so they’re ready to tuck in as soon as the salad is ready. Put your salad leaves on a big platter, tear in the radicchio, then pour over that wonderful, thick dressing. Scatter over most of your walnuts and chives and all the croutons and lardons. Quickly mix it all up with your clean hands so that every single leaf is coated.

Use the tip of a knife to crumble off little nuggets of Roquefort and let them fall straight on to your salad. Finish by scattering over the rest of the walnuts and chives from a height, and tuck in.

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