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Love Your Veggies

Photograph by Andrew Meade.

If you live in a cold environment—or even if you don’t!—you may be thinking about comfort food during these long nights. But comfort food doesn’t have to be heavy. I love salads and like to make them different and fun. And even if you have rich main dish, vegetables add a bit of lightness to the menu. I created this roasted eggplant and fennel salad with that in mind. The flavor of the fennel combined with the peppery frisée is a perfect cold weather combination—plus the warm bacon vinaigrette gives it the comfort food touch we all crave in the colder months. Serve it at your next dinner party for a green and tasty side option. Buen provecho!

Eggplant and Fennel Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

Makes 6 servings

Cooking spray
1 eggplant (about 1 pound), cut into ½-inch-thick strips
1 fennel bulb, fronds discarded, cored and thinly sliced
¼ cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons for roasting
1 garlic clove, minced
½ plus ¼ teaspoon salt
6 slices center-cut bacon, diced
1 shallot, minced
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 head frisée (curly endive), torn into bite-size pieces (about 6 cups)
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped

 

  1. Spray a large baking pan with cooking spray. Put a broiler rack about 6 inches from the source of heat and preheat the broiler.
  2. Combine the eggplant, fennel, 2 tablespoons of oil, garlic, and ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl; toss to coat. Spread the eggplant-fennel mixture in a single layer in the pan. Broil until the vegetables are tender, stirring halfway through cooking (about 8 minutes). Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the vegetables cool.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 6 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of drippings in the skillet and return to medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the vinegar, the remaining ¼ cup oil, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
  4. Combine the frisée, pine nuts, and mint in a large bowl. Drizzle with half of the warm dressing and toss to coat well. Arrange the frisée mixture on a platter. Top with the eggplant mixture. Sprinkle with the bacon and drizzle with the remaining dressing. Serve warm.

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