Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bistro Salad with Spinach Caesar Dressing

It’s foreign film night: go French. Get in the mood for a foreign film with this fantastic salad. Bistro Salad is the star of this movie-night, featuring heirloom tomatoes, cremini mushrooms and fresh mozzarella balls tossed in a roasted garlic and spinach dressing.

Bistro Salad with Spinach Caesar Dressing
Yields 6

For the Dressing:
1 head garlic
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt
1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 anchovy fillets
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Freshly ground pepper

For the Salad:
½ pound pancetta, diced
3 thick slices ciabatta bread
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
½ pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 pound small heirloom tomatoes, halved or cut into wedges
¼ pound small mozzarella balls, quartered
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh parsley

Make the dressing: Preheat the oven to 350. Cut the top ½ inch off the garlic head and discard; place the garlic on a piece of foil, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and wrap up. Roast until tender, 30 minutes. Cool; squeeze the cloves from their skins.

Puree the roasted garlic, spinach, anchovies, egg yolk, mustard, vinegar and ¾ cup water in a blender. With the motor running, slowly add 1 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Prepare the salad: Preheat the broiler. Cook the pancetta in a skillet over medium heat until crisp, 6 minutes; transfer to paper towels to drain. Reserve the drippings in the skillet. Brush the bread with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and broil until toasted. Cool, then cut into cubes.

Toss the mushrooms, lemon juice, tomatoes, mozzarella and parsley in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the pancetta, bread cubes and 2 tablespoons of the pancetta drippings and toss. Divide among bowls and drizzle with dressing.

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