When my daughter Rachel was a little girl, I asked her, “What would you rather be when you grow up, a doctor or a nurse?” I wanted her to know she would not be bound by gender rules, that she could be anything she wanted to be as an adult.
She pondered it for a minute then answered, thoughtfully. “I’m not sure. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see which outfit looks better on me.”
Though her reasoning may be dubious from a career-choosing standpoint, I must admit that I adopt her philosophy a lot when it comes to cooking. “What’s for dinner?” my husband will ask. “I don’t know yet,” I’ll say as I rummage through the fridge. “It depends on what jumps out at me, sounds good and looks pretty in a picture for the food blog.”
Rachel and I laugh that the way to get food re-pinned on Pinterest is to put a slice of avocado on it. We’ve debated about putting a piece of avocado on everything we make, from desserts to cocktails, as our “signature garnish.” Because, let me tell you, people love the sight of a green, ripe avocado in food pictures!
Thus, using those guidelines, this salad was born. At the end of groceries I had one meat protein left in the fridge: natural, nitrate-free bacon. (Though I’m shifting toward vegetarianism, my husband is staying put in the land of meat for now, so I try to buy the least processed, organic varieties.) I thought about a BLT sandwich, but our waistlines are calling for more vegies and less bread. Ah-ha! A BLT salad! Then I spied some of those little sweet red and yellow peppers in the crisper. With a roasted pepper dressing! Yes! I pulled out a little of the leftover cornbread in the back of the fridge, spread with butter and broiled until crispy, like a giant cornbread crouton. Ta-dah. Dinner done.
Needless to say, it worked. We WILL be having this salad again.
Vegetarians and Vegans: There are lots of bacon bits that are great for vegans and vegetarians. McCormicks makes a tasty brand and is easy to find at most any grocery store.
BLT/Avocado Salad with Roasted Pepper Dressing
Makes two meal-sized salads
Nitrate Free Uncured Bacon (8 slices, cut in one inch pieces with kitchen scissors before cooking. It is okay if they stick together in little bundles. They will separate in the skillet as the fat melts.)
(Vegans: use 1/4 cup vegan “bacon bits” in place of bacon, such as McCormick’s brand. Or make your own vegan coconut bacon.)
2 cups mixed salad greens (I used spinach and romaine)
2 small to medium tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1 red pepper or 4 small sweet peppers, roasted (See pics below) (You can also used jarred roast peppers if you have them on hand.)
1/2 cup your favorite Ranch Dressing (There are plenty of good vegan varieties! Also, to cut calories, you may want to use 1/4 cup Greek Yogurt for 1/4 cup of the Ranch Dressing.)
Cook the cut up bacon over medium high heat in a skillet until the pieces are golden crisp and brown. Drain on paper towels. While bacon is cooking, roast the peppers over a gas flame or under the broiler. Put them in a plastic bag when they have a good char all around so the steam will loosen the skin. Wipe the charred pepper skin off with a paper towel.
Into each of two large salad bowls (I like big pasta bowls for this), put one cup of mixed salad greens. Sprinkle each salad with half the tomatoes and avocados. Top with crispy bacon or bacon bits.
Put Ranch Dressing and roasted pepper into a food processor or blender. Blend to desired consistency. I left the peppers a little bit chunky.
Ladle dressing down the middle of the salads and serve. A few turns of fresh pepper are nice. This is especially good with cornbread on the side.
Variations: Additional yummy add-ins could be thinly sliced red onion or chopped green onion, corn, beans, or a diced boiled egg.