French Cabbage Bacon Salad with a Twist

 

With my first post, I have shown you that we like to enjoy good food but we try also to be health conscious. In a weekly basis, we try to eat 40% of our diet raw, which means a lot of salads, smoothies, slow juices and fruits.

The first time I have tried this salad I was at my friend’s house in San Diego, Guillermo. He learnt this recipe from one of his French friends when he was doing his postdoctoral studies in Lyon. He explained me that this is one of the culinary specialties of Lyon, the food capital of the world (see the article in the Guardian).

What characterizes this salad? The bacon for sure but more importantly the vinaigrette, which needs not only to have a strong mustard and vinegar taste, but also needs to coat generously each piece of bacon and cabbage! It was so delicious. A discovery for me, I never ate raw cabbage before.

I have prepared this salad using the same recipe several times. But over the years I have adapted the recipe. I gave it a modern twist that fits better my taste. 

Cabbage can seem boring or not tasty enough for our modern era. It is one of the rare locally produced vegetables that we can find during winter season. Having a hand full of yummy recipes that use winter veggies is a prerequisite when living in Canada.

Cabbage is also good for health. During many years, the nutritional science has explained us the importance of eating 7-10 vegetables/fruits per day, mostly the colorful ones (red, orange, dark green, purple…). Recently, we have discovered that eating white vegetable is also important because it contains specific micronutrients important for our health.

White foods such as onions, garlic, celery, pears, cabbage and white wine contain flavonoids and allicin, which is known to inhibit abnormal cell growth. White foods also contain sulphur compounds which assist in raising levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol and lowering dangerous levels of blood fats called triglycerides. Another benefit of white foods is that they can ease the inflammatory response of asthma and can break up catarrh secretions caused by colds and flu. Cabbage, among other white foods is good for you, and we need to enjoy each bite of it.

Cabbage dishes can be sexy. My salad contains not only cabbage and bacon, but also kale and pomegranate seeds. When you crunch a pomegranate seed, the sweetness and tartness of the pomegranate is an interesting tone that balances well with the savory flavors of this salad. The vinaigrette is not over powerful such as the classic version but still complex and aromatic through its mild combination of maple syrup and Dijon mustards, malt vinegar, olive and sunflower oils, fresh ground black pepper. The vinaigrette speaks by itself, but not as the tenor. It makes the liaison between the different elements that compose this salad and helps to create the alchemy that reveals the sensual harmony between simple foods such as bacon, cabbage, kale and pomegranate seeds.  Hum, I think it is time to prepare this salad, this is my recipe: 

 Ingredients

200 g of bacon (3 thick-sliced double smoked artisan bacon), diced

600-800 g of green cabbage (a medium one)

200 g of kale (4 to 5 leaves, remove the stem)

Seeds of a pomegranate

1/4 cup IPA beer (like the Amsterdam Boneshaker beer)

4 tablespoons of mustard (2 tablespoons of maple syrup mustard and 2 tablespoons of Maille Dijon Originale mustard)

1 tablespoon of malt or apple vinegar

 6 – 8 tablespoons of oil (a combination of extra virgin olive and sunflower oils) 

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus additional for sprinkling on the top of the salad

Salt (optional)

Preparation

Clean and slice the cabbage and kale into thin strips, and mix them together in a large bowl

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes; transfer the bacon with a slotted spoon into the large bowl and mix together with cabbage and kale

Deglaze the juice in your skillet. Carefully pour in the beer along with 1/4 cup water. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits in the bottom of the skillet, bring the liquid to a boil and reduce until you get two to three tablespoons of liquid

Prepare the vinaigrette by mixing mustard, pepper, salt (optional), beer reduction, vinegar and oil

Add the vinaigrette to the salad. Mix well and serve immediately

N.B: You can reserve the salad in the fridge for at least 2 hours so that the cabbage really absorbs the sauce but it won’t be as crispy

The leftover (if any) can make a great lunch for the next day

Bon appetite!

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