Friday, August 2, 2013

Bacon Chimichurri Salad with Grilled Corn, Zucchini and Potatoes

This summer salad is brought to you by:  Bacon!  Because really, is there any dish it can't improve?  I always keep a little glass jar of bacon fat in my fridge, but I love coming up with recipes that use it right when you acquire it after frying up some sweet, sweet strips.  

Last Summer I fell in love with chimichurri.  We were getting insane amounts of parsley through our CSA and it was all I could do to come up with enough uses for it.  Meat is the traditional vehicle for this tangy, herbacious, spicy, garlicky condiment, but why stop there?  It seems to beg for an earthy grilled counterpart like the veggies in this salad.  Substituting bacon fat for olive oil really takes chimichurri to new heights of awesomeness.  The dressing has a bright tartness from the red wine vinegar but the bacon adds a rich, smoky, sexy flavor that really makes it shine.

Bacon Chimichurri Salad 
with Grilled Corn, Zucchini and Potatoes
serves 2

1 russet potato
1 zucchini
1 cob fresh corn
olive oil
1/2 a head of Romaine lettuce, chopped & washed

Bacon Chimichurri:
4 slices of bacon
3 T reserved bacon fat
1 T olive oil
1 cup chopped parsley
3 T red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
generous pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste

First, prep your salad vegetables.  Slice the potato and zucchini into 1/4 inch-thick diagonal rounds.  Toss them in a little olive oil to coat.  Brush the corn cob with a little more olive oil.  Place veggies on the grill and cook until a nice char forms on each side.  Remove from grill and allow to cool, slightly.  Cut veggies into smaller, bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Next, make your bacon chimichurri.  In a large pan over medium-high heat, fry bacon until crispy.  Remove bacon and allow to drain on a paper towel.  Chop or crumble bacon into bite-sized pieces.  Pour hot bacon fat into a small bowl through a fine-mesh sieve to filter out any burned bits (if desired).  Allow to cool until fat is just warm to the touch.

Meanwhile, place all your remaining chimichurri ingredients into a blender.  Pour 3 T of the cooled bacon fat into the mixture and blend really well, until the dressing becomes smooth.  Combine Romaine with grilled veggies and bacon and drizzle with desired amount of chimichurri (I used about half and stored the rest for later use).  Toss well and serve immediately.