Today–the day of writing this, not posting it– was the last day of school. Such a bittersweet day, full of so many conflicting emotions. The kids of course feel no such conflict. Alex is ebullient with joy while Sammy is devastated. I feel much of both. On the one hand, our schedule is once again our own, we can sleep in, bed times need not be so rigid, oh the fun to be be had! On the other hand, my kindergartner and 2nd grader are now a 1st grader and 3rd grader. I know, truly, in my heart that none of us would want children who do not grow and mature. Watching a child blossom and mature is one of the great things about being a parent. It is, however, also one of the hardest. Which is why we moms cry at kindergarten graduation and other such events and totally embarrass our children in the process.
But with a salad like this for dinner I am quickly forgiven for any embarrassing tearful moments.
This salad was huge at my house. Such a hit, in fact, that the next day I went out and bought more bacon and then that evening made more farro, chopped more cucumbers and tomatoes and in general made more. The kids each had multiple servings and John and I loved it as well. It tasted like a somewhat less herby, more chewy, more midwestern tabbouleh with bacon. Which I realize sounds kind of insane so instead I will just strongly suggest suggest you try it!
I found the recipe I adapted from in Bacon Nation: 125 Irresistible Recipes by Peter Kaminsky and Marie Rama. Bacon Nation is one of these super trendy single subject cookbooks that are popping up everywhere. Cookbook lovers like me stare at them longingly, wondering if they are really worth the space. Often the answer is no, but it can just as often be yes. And sometimes it can be hard to predict. For example, a waffle or pancake book will get used in my kitchen. That is a fact. A sandwich cookbook will not. But then there are many cookbook topics that I just cannot tell until I get them home. For example, I can think of a several different bean cookbooks I own. One is is good, one has been entirely untouched, and one is a workhorse in my kitchen. All of this is a particularly long winded way of saying if you like bacon at all run don’t walk to buy this cookbook. I teetered on the edge of not buying this, it was the last book into my cart. It is also, from that shopping trip, the first book used and I have used it twice already. Stay tuned for the next recipe– all I will say is think sweet!
- 6-10 slices bacon to taste (it is fantastic either way but we liked it with more, and it is nice to have 1 to garnish)
- 1 small or 1/2 large red onion chopped
- 1 1/2 cups farro I used semi-pearled because that is what I can find
- salt to taste
- 1 cup frozen corn I strongly prefer organic or fresh sliced off the cob and boiled until al dente if it is summer
- 1 small or 1/2 large red onion diced very finely
- 2 dry pints of grape tomatoes sliced in half
- 2 hothouse cucumbers peeled and seeded, sliced into half moons
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- 3 T chopped fresh mint
- 1 garlic clove smashed
- zest of one lemon
- juice of one lemon
- 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 t ground cumin
- approximately 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil to taste
- scant warm i.e., still melted tablespoon of bacon fat
- salt and pepper to taste
Cook the farro with the chopped onion according to package directions. Do not overcook--you want it chewy.
Place the frozen corn in the bottom of a fine mesh colander. Drain the farro over the corn (this is will defrost and warm the corn. Set aside to cool.
Cook the bacon until completely crispy but not at all burned (I use the lowest heat on a cast iron skillet). Set aside to drain on a paper towel and press a second paper towel on top of the bacon. When it is cool enough, crumble it into a large bowl. Reserve 1 tablespoon of bacon grease for the dressing.
Toss the finely diced onion, grape tomatoes, cucumber slices, parsley and mint together with the crumbled bacon.
Toss in the cooked onion and farro as well as the defrosted corn.
Make the dressing: place the smashed garlic clove into a medium sized bowl (if raw garlic does not bother you, you could also mince the garlic). Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, bacon fat and cumin. Whisk together.
I find dressings to be somewhat individual--I like more acid and less oil. So start with a minimum of oil, and add it slowly in a drizzle while whisking the dressing. Add some salt and pepper to taste. If it is too acidic for you whisk in some more oil. When you like how it tastes, add it (except the smashed garlic clove) to the farro mixture. Toss, taste again for salt, pepper or even more oil or vinegar, and serve.
Dressed, the salad can sit for a few hours in the refrigerator until dinner is ready.
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