Salads are a staple of many a resolution-conscious eater come January. And while eating more vegetables is always a healthy choice, meal after meal of barely-dressed plates of carrots and mixed greens will get old quickly. Yvette van Boven's Speckled Salad with Quinoa, Leek, Bacon, and Chervil in her new Home Made Winter hits many health points (Vegetables! Whole grains! Spinach!) while still including enough pleasurable bits (Bacon! Wine! Bacon!) to prevent boredom. This is a texturally rich salad, and all the better for it.
Why I picked this recipe: With bacon, braised leeks, and an oil-forward dressing, this salad is a far cry from the dry mixed greens of many a new year's resolution past.
What worked: The balance of textures here is spot on. The pop of the quinoa and poppy seeds contrasts perfectly with the creamy leeks, crunchy bacon, and tender spinach.
What didn't: I thought the dressing could use more lemon juice, perhaps as much as double the amount listed. There is also far more dressing than needed to dress the salad—drizzle to taste.
Suggested tweaks: If you can't find chervil, parsley would work as a substitute. I couldn't find baby leeks, so I used three larger ones. Any small lettuce would work in place of the spinach.
Reprinted with permission from Home Made Winter by Yvette van Boven, copyright 2012. Published by Stewart, Tabori, & Chang. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:serves 4 to 6
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:50 minutes
- For the Salad:
- 6 baby leeks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- About 1/2 cup (150 ml) dry white vermouth or dry white wine
- 2/3 cup (100 g) quinoa, well rinsed
- 5 ounces (150 g) thinly sliced bacon
- 2 to 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 1 bunch fresh chervil
- 2 handfuls of baby spinach or arugula
- For the Dressing:
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Pinch of cayenne
- 1/3 cup (75 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup (75 ml) grapeseed oil or other light oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Make the salad: Cut the leeks diagonally into 1/2-inch (1.5-cm) pieces. Rinse them thoroughly, drain well, then fry them in the oil in a sauté pan or wok over high heat until they are really hot, but not yet browned, stirring constantly. Add the vermouth and lower the heat. Put the lid on slightly askew and braise about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are tender.
Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, add a pinch of salt, and stir in the quinoa. Set a kitchen timer for 10 minutes. Let the quinoa cook gently on low heat. When the alarm goes off, immediately drain the quinoa and rinse it with cold water to halt further cooking. Let it drain thoroughly.
In a nonstick skillet, fry the bacon until crisp and let it drain on a paper towel.
The pan with the leeks should be almost dry and the leeks just about done. Lift the leeks onto a plate and let them cool. In a medium bowl, combine the leeks with the quinoa, poppy seeds, and some of the chervil. Set some chervil aside for garnish.
Make the dressing: Whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, and cayenne, then whisk in the oils in a thin stream. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the speckled leek mixture.
Arrange the spinach in a big bowl. Add the speckled salad and crumble the bacon on top. Garnish with the reserved chervil and serve.