I grew up eating spinach salads with warm bacon dressing and I always loved them. But it wasn’t until I started working at Szmania’s restaurant that I discovered just how great a warm dressing tasted on romaine. Wow… it’s been 20 years since I worked at Szmania’s, but I still love this salad. On a recent trip back to the restaurant, I was so happy to see that Chef Ludgar has kept this wonderful salad on his menu.
It’s really pretty simple. A warm dressing made with balsamic vinegar and crispy fried pancetta tops a wedge of romaine. Finish with diced tomatoes, croutons, a little cheese if you like, and some freshly ground black pepper.
I must admit, I can’t remember exactly how I used to make the dressing 20 years ago, but this is my current version and it’s very, very tasty.
We chose this recipe for the salad course in our Steakhouse Dinner at Home. Read the entire menu here.
- 1 head romaine, outer leaves removed
- 2 roma tomatoes, seeds removed, finely diced
- homemade or store bought croutons
- 3 oz. pancetta, cut into small pieces
- 1 Tbsp. finely minced shallots
- 1/4 cup high quality balsamic dressing
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
- Cut the romaine in half lengthwise, then cut each half into two or three wedges (depending on the size of the lettuce and the number of servings you need). Cut the core part of the lettuce off each wedge and place on individual plates.
- In a medium sauté pan, cook the pancetta until it is crispy. Remove from the pan. Add the olive oil to the pan.
- When the oil is hot, add the shallots and sauté until they are soft.
- Pour in the vinegar and sugar.
- Bring to a boil and cook until the vinegar reduces by 1/4 and starts to thicken.
- Whisk in the pancetta and olive oil and cook for 30 seconds more.
- Pour the warm dressing over the lettuce, spooning an equal amount of pancetta onto each serving.
- Garnish with diced tomatoes and croutons and serve immediately.