A salad of leaves and pancetta

Nigel Slater values lettuce as a cooling force within a salad -  marrying it with hot or peppery flavours such as watercress and young mustard leaves.


Serves 4

200g piece of pancetta or bacon
2 thick slices of bread, crusts removed
A little olive oil
For the salad
4 handfuls of leaves to include soft, mild lettuce and a spicier leaf such as one of the mustard family
A small bunch of flat leaf parsley
6 bushy sprigs of tarragon
About 10 basil leaves
For the dressing
1 tablespoon of tarragon vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon walnut oil
A dab of French mustard


Achieving the perfect results

  1. Cut the pancetta into small dice and tear the bread into larger pieces. Cook the pancetta in a shallow pan with a little oil until the fat is golden, then lift it out and drain on kitchen paper.
  2. Using both the fat remaining in the pan and a little more oil if needs be, cook the bread cubes until they are golden on all sides. Watch them carefully, they can burn quite easily. Put them on kitchen paper to drain.
  3. Rinse the leaves carefully, so as not to damage any of the fragile leaves. They are best dried in a salad spinner. Pull the leaves from the herb branches, tear the basil roughly and chop the others.
  4. Make the dressing by mixing all the ingredients together with a small whisk or by shaking them in a jar.
  5. Toss the warm bacon and croutons of bread with the salad leaves, herbs and the dressing. Serve straight away...

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