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Warm Escarole, Egg and Bacon Salad

Use the freshest eggs possible for poaching, as they have a more solid white. If the white starts to spread, use a spoon to nudge it near the yolk. The addition of a little vinegar to the water also discourages spreading by causing the white to coagulate. Before putting the eggs on the salads, rest the base of the slotted spoon on a kitchen towel to blot away excess moisture.

Ingredients:

  • 4 thick-cut bacon slices, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, bruised
  • 1 Tbs. whole-grain mustard
  • 2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 heads escarole, tough outer leaves removed, remaining leaves torn into bite-size pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

Make the vinaigrette
Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the bacon and cook for 5 minutes. Drain, transfer to paper towels and blot dry.

Dry the saucepan, set over medium-low heat, and add the olive oil, garlic and bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is golden and the bacon is crisp, about 3 minutes; do not let the garlic burn. Remove the pan from the heat and discard the garlic. Stir in the mustard and the 2 Tbs. vinegar.

Poach the eggs
Choose a large, wide pan with a tight-fitting lid. Fill with a generous amount of water, add the 1 tsp. vinegar, set over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Turn off the heat. Working quickly, crack each egg and release it just above the surface of the water, letting it ease into the water and spacing the eggs evenly. Immediately cover the pan and let the eggs stand undisturbed for 3 to 4 minutes, depending on how runny you prefer the yolks.

Assemble the salads
Place the escarole in a large bowl. Bring the vinaigrette in the saucepan to a boil. Pour over the escarole and immediately toss to wilt the leaves slightly. Season with salt and pepper. Toss again and arrange on salad plates. Using a slotted spoon, transfer a poached egg to the top of each salad and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Salad, by Brigit L. Binns (Oxmoor House, 2007).