Summer Salad: Warm Bean and Bacon

More cooking with Jacques! So salads are not just greens in dressing. This recipe sounded interesting and as I had most of the ingredients on hand I made it.

  • 1 can (15 ounces) small white beans, drained
  • about 2 ounces of bacon
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon of dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons malt vinegar (I ran out of balsamic)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Fry up the bacon in cast iron skillet and then add the onion and garlic. Add the beans and stir to warm. Blend the rest of the ingredients together and toss together. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Fresh parsley is better than dried. I was able to add fresh parsley to the leftovers. This would be fabulous with fresh spinach mixed into it. It was yummy. And a few days later I mixed up the dressing by itself to use with a green salad.

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Summer Salads: not my mother’s potato salad!

I decided to make potato salad. Mom made hers with Miracle Whip, boiled eggs, and pickle relish. I perused several cookbooks and found too many ideas, as usual. I thought a vinaigrette would be nice for a change. Most of these are for warm potato salads but, “what the hey”, I’d try it for a cold dish. The following is a conglomeration from various recipe books, none more than another.

  • 6 medium potatoes, approximately 2 1/2 – 3 inches in diameter
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 radishes, sliced
  • 1 green onion, chopped using both white and green parts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper, to taste

I scrubbed the potatoes and put the whole potatoes with the skins in a pot to boil expecting this would prevent me from overcooking them. It did. When done (I did not time this–just stuck a fork through the center) chop into inch or so pieces. Place in bowl with the chopped celery and green onion. Mix the dressing, pour over, and stir. Done!

This was not a hit. Hubby said “it’s okay” but did not like it that much.

So I repaired the remainder by adding:

  • 2 more sliced radishes
  • 2 more sliced green onions, white and green parts
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

This repaired version was much more enjoyable. Lesson learned: Hubby likes creamy potato salad.

Spinach, Sausages, and Potatoes

I have collected various cooking/food magazines over the years. While looking for my cookie recipes I found some Eating Well magazines from 2002 and 2003. I have a memory of the time reading these and thinking the recipes were too exotic or different. But when glancing through them now I find the recipes intriguing and simple enough. They are different from the usual Midwestern fare of my upbringing, but now in my cooking that is a good thing. Back then I read the articles for the health and wellness; now I will try out some of the recipes.

This recipe was touted as a warm salad along with other recipes for adding greens to one’s diet. It describes a variety of winter greens and how to cook them. This one was named Warm Salad of Greens, Italian Sausage & Potatoes. And it’s not like I had all these ingredients sitting around my kitchen. But as many of you do, I read the recipe for the idea and the way the ingredients are combined and cooked and put together. And as I was reading this one I thought about frozen spinach (always in my freezer), the venison sausage from my son-in-law’s first buck, and the white potatoes in the pantry. Voila, a recipe is born!

The original recipe calls for kale. I have never cooked kale, nor eaten it to my knowledge. I have heard, who knows where, that it is bitter and tough if not cooked right. Here’s what I used:

  • 4 links of venison sausage, most likely a pound or more
  • 3 medium sized potatoes, washed and diced
  • 1 or 2 cups frozen spinach (I just poured from the bag)
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic from a jar
  • pinch of salt
  • fresh ground pepper

First put the potatoes in a pot of water and bring to boil. While waiting for this, remove skins from sausages. First actually I boiled the sausages for 10 minutes in a pot of water like my son-in-law instructed. So I am removing the skins from these cooked sausages.

Put the fennel seeds in a skillet and cook with the sausages. I had to improvise here because my sausages were already cooked. I added an additional tablespoon of oil to this skillet and sauteed the sausage with the fennel seeds. The seeds did indeed stick to the sausages as reported in the original recipe. When done, I cut the sausages into 1/2 inch thick slices.

When the potato pot comes to a boil, add the spinach and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and add to the skillet with the sausages. Whisk the oil, vinegar, garlic, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over the sausage-potato mixture and toss to blend. Dinner is served.

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The beauty of this recipe is that it also make a fabulous base for soup for the leftovers. Venison has a rich taste so a little goes a long way. To make soup I sauteed a diced onion and 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables in a tablespoon of oil in the dutch oven. After about 5 minutes I added a can of diced tomatoes and two tablespoons of pesto. The pesto was in place of sauteing garlic with the onion. I had one last square of homemade pesto in my freezer. Now add 3 cups of broth. I used chicken or turkey broth that also was homemade in my freezer. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and add the leftover sausage-potato mixture and a can of cannellini beans, drained. Simmer until heated through.

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This is a nice rich soup/stew. We had some for supper, and I have leftovers to bring to work for my lunches.