In the So Many Fairies story “Luck of the Maple Candy,” Leibli, the sugar maple elf, has been delivering sweet maple sap to the Morrison family for generations. Every year, Mr. and Mrs. Morrison snowshoe down to the "sugarbush" to tap the trees and boil syrup in their sugar shack. One year, however, only Mr. Morrison comes, and Leibli knows that it's a good time to offer him a little extra sweetness.
Maple sugaring season comes at just the time of year when we all probably need a little extra sweetness. We can't yet enjoy the delicate strawberry and baby spinach salads we'll all be eating in a few months. We'll have to craft something more substantial than those, but something tempting and tasty and beautiful, just the same. Something to help us remember that the world isn't all grey slush and mud and drizzle.
If you need a little late-winter pick-me-up, give this salad a try. The warm kale (or any other sturdy green you have on hand) is bright and green, but still hearty. And the combination of the smoky bacon fat and the sweet maple dressing will warm you to the core. The fried egg on top is optional, but it gives the salad enough of a protein boost to make it a meal.
This is one of my favorite lunches for a yucky winter Saturday afternoon.
Warm Kale Salad With Maple Mustard Dressing (makes one meal-sized portion)
For the salad:
2 slices fatty bacon
Handful cherry tomatoes
3 big handfuls (about 4 ounces) sturdy greens (like kale, collards, or beet tops)
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the dressing:
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Chop the bacon into pieces and fry it up in a large, high-sided skillet until the bacon is crispy and has rendered out a nice amount of fat. Remove the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon, reserving them for later.
Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and add them to the hot bacon fat. Cook them over medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until they start to look barely soft.
While the greens and tomatoes are cooking, mix the dressing ingredients in a lidded container and shake them together.
Put the dressed greens onto a pretty plate, then — using the same pan you cooked the greens in — fry an egg and pop it atop the greens. Add the reserved bacon bits and even more dressing if you would like a bit of extra sweetness.
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred year old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two pre-schoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion--showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun--in her weekly Sparkle Kitchen posts.
When Meryl isn't writing for Sparkle Kitchen, you can find her on her personal blog, My Bit of Earth, where she writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day.