Avocado, spinach and bacon salad

I have been running to catch up with myself since a most enjoyable holiday in the States last month, so have been rather neglecting the blog. A lot of good eating has been going on, though, including several classic American brunches, one ending with this very indulgent affogato Affogato in Philadelphiaand chocolate cake.  Back home it has been a question of throwing together familiar meals on the trot, with not much time to try new recipes or photograph what I’ve been cooking.

As the weather has shifted gear, salads are back on the menu, and this is a classic – a quick, easy meal in a bowl, combining creamy avocado and the salty tang of bacon. If you can, use thinly sliced bacon for this recipe, so you can get it nice and crisp, to contrast with the soft leaves. Purists would omit the red pepper and the rocket or watercress, but I like the cheerful colour of the red pepper and the peppery kick of flavour that the other leaves bring. A small head of chicory – red for preference – is also a good addition instead of or as well as the rocket or watercress – just slice it across into three or four pieces and separate the leaves.  These qualities are for 2, served with good bread. Add a dish of warm lentils dressed with olive oil and lemon if you want to make it into a more substantial meal.

Avocado, spinach and bacon salad
4-6 thin rashers of bacon
200g spinach
handful of rocket or watercress
½ red pepper
1 avocado
30g pine nuts

Dressing
½ tsp dijon mustard
salt & pepper
1 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil

Heat a frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil and cook the bacon over a medium heat for about 6-10 mins (depending on the thickness of your rashers) until it is nice and crisp. I used six rashers of bacon, as they were very small and thin. Meanwhile, wash the spinach and rocket or watercress and dry in a salad spinner (or shake in a tea-towel). Slice the red pepper thinly and chop into 2cm pieces. Cut the avocado into chunks. Toast the pine nuts in a small frying pan over medium heat – this should only take 2 or 3 minutes, but do watch them like a hawk, shaking and turning them so that they don’t burn.

When the bacon is ready, take it out of the pan and drain on a piece of kitchen towel. Put the drained salad leaves into a large bowl, and add the avocado and most of the red pepper. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients, pour over the salad and mix together. Finally, crumble the bacon and sprinkle it over the salad, with, the remaining red pepper and the pine nuts. I usually finish it with a tiny drizzle of oil and another grind of black pepper.

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