This is, hands down, one of my all time favorite salads. My love for it started 2 years ago when me and my husband were in London (shooting a commercial for Jaguar, me interviewing Benedict Cumberbatch – yes, I like my job). One night we went to Barrafina, the kind of restaurant foodies absolutely love. It’s refined yet casual, 23 stools by a marble-clad counter, no reservations, people happily standing in long lines nibbling on some Iberico ham. A non-superfluous menu with stuff like Tuna tartar, Grilled quail and, the one, Baby gem salad with anchovies and pancetta. In short: it feels authentic. Which for a foodie is as good as it gets.
Back in Stockholm I continued to dream about, no, not Cumberbatch but the baby gem salad. It had looked so simple by I could tell there was more to the picture than met the eye. And then, one day, I received a new cook book by one of Sweden’s most renowned chefs, Danyel Couet, and there it was, the baby gem salad! In this version with bacon and capers instead of anchovies and pancetta, which suited me fine, since I have a unhealthy love-affair with bacon.
And yeah, I was right, that dressing is advanced. You need help from a top chef to come up with that stuff. And that’s the beauty of this salad! It looks simple but it taste divine. The flavors are refined. You feel like a debonair person eating it. Like you’re someone who only read books in their original language, or collect old china, or, I don’t know, something equally pretentious.
I mean sure, the combination of crispy-soft [!] gem salad and salty bacon is a killer combination already, but it’s the dressing that makes this salad transcends its simple salad-ness. Anyway, try it and you’ll see what I mean!
- 2-4 Roman lettuce or 4-8 baby gem salads (depending on size and hunger). Cut in halves, lengthwise.
- 250 g of bacon, finely chopped
- 4 shallots, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp of French mustard
- ½ clove of garlic, grated, pressed or finely chopped
- 1 tbsp of sherry vinegar
- 1 tbsp of any white vinegar (I use balsamico)
- 1 lemon, zest + 1tbsp juice
- 2 pinches of dried tarragon
- Salt & Peppar
- 5 tbsp of olive oil
- 2 tbsp of capers, roughly chopped
- Make the dressing by mixing all of the ingredients but the oil and the capers. Then stir in the oil. Then add the capers.
- Put the halved salad on a flat plate. Fry the chopped up bacon crispy. Sprinkle it over the salad. Then sprinkle the shallots on top. And lastly drizzle the dressing over it. If you feel like it – add a few extra capers on top.