Here's a savory salad that anchors an "assertive" salad with a nugget of pork-wrapped goat cheese, from Patricia Wells' "Salad as a Meal," featured in today's Taste section. As the author points out, spinach works fine if you don't want to find dandelions or dislike their bitterness.
This has been a family favorite ever since we moved to France in 1980. I like to wrap the slightly firm goat cheese in thin slices of smoked meat, such as coppa, bacon, pancetta, or smoked ham. The meat must be sliced as thin as possible so it cooks up quickly, before the goat cheese has time to melt and turn runny. So opt for a firm goat cheese. I like to serve this with an assertive salad, such as dandelion greens, or a sturdy spinach-like green from my garden, dressed with a simple, classic vinaigrette.
Bacon-Wrapped Goat Cheese with Dandelion Greens
4 SERVINGS / EQUIPMENT: A LARGE NONSTICK SKILLET
1 tablespoon minced mixed fresh herbs, such as chives, chervil, mint, and tarragon
4 small, firm rounds of goat’s milk cheese (2 ounces each)
8 ultra- thin slices smoked bacon, pancetta, or smoked ham
6 cups firmly packed dandelion greens, torn into bite- sized pieces (or use baby spinach)
Classic Vinaigrette (below)
1. Sprinkle the herbs over both sides of each goat cheese round, pressing down lightly so they adhere. Wrap 2 slices of bacon, crisscross fashion, around each cheese.
2. Heat the skillet over moderate heat. Add the wrapped cheese and cook until the meat is browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a layer of paper towels to drain.
3. In a large salad bowl, toss the greens with just enough dressing to lightly and evenly coat them. Arrange the greens on large salad plates. Place a wrapped goat cheese on top of each salad and serve.
2 tablespoons best quality sherry-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons best-quality red-wine vinegar
Fine sea salt
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In a small jar with a lid, combine the vinegars and salt to taste. Cover with the lid and shake to dissolve the salt. Add the oil and shake to blend. Taste for seasoning. The dressing can be used immediately. (Store at room temperature or in refrigerator for several weeks. Shake to blend again before using.)
(Source: "Salad as a Meal," by Patricia Wells, William Morrow.)