Kale, Cherry Tomato and Bacon Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing

Shared by food writers Jess Fleming and Nancy Ngo in the St. Paul Pioneer Press issue dated Thursday, June 25, 2020, this is a classic family favorite recipe. For those who may be put off by the taste of kale in its raw or fresh form, the dressing in this recipe will wilt it just enough to offset that taste. Homemade croutons are easily made as well. Instructions will follow at the end of this recipe.
Servings: 8 as a side dish
Ingredients:12 slices thick-cut Bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup minced Shallots*
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
2 teaspoons light Brown Sugar, packed
10 cups Kale, stemmed and cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 pint Cherry or Grape Tomatoes, halved
2 cups Croutons, preferably homemade
* Note from Dee: I don’t always have shallots on hand, so I have substituted chopped scallions or sweet white onions in the past, with excellent results. Also, try adding a few red, yellow or orange mini sweet peppers for color.
To fry bacon: Saute bacon pieces over medium heat until crisp. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Reserve about 1/4 cup of drippings in the pan.
To make dressing: Heat drippings in pan over medium-high heat and add shallots, stirring until translucent, about 1 minute. Add vinegar, mustard and sugar and whisk for another minute or until all ingredients are incorporated, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
To finish salad: In a large bowl, toss kale with dressing. Top with tomatoes, bacon and croutons. Serve immediately.
Homemade croutons: Use whatever bread you have around. Cut the bread into bite-size cubes and toss them with a pat of butter melted in a little olive oil. Sprinkle the cubes with garlic-pepper seasoning salt, or your own favorite combination of seasonings. Bake the cubes at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown but still chewy. Delicious!

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