It’s hard being thousands of miles from family during the holidays, so I’ve been doing what I usually do to cheer myself up – planning and cooking elaborate meals. Since it’s summer here, and it’s just two of us to eat everything, I haven’t been cooking the traditional, heavy holiday feasts, but instead trying to come up with dishes that allude to the usual traditions. Fish preparations for holiday eves, for example. And this salad, which I’d planned to have roast rabbit or duck – along with the plums, I thought, it would be appropriate. But I couldn’t find anything quite so exotic in the nearby markets. Disappointed, I nearly scraped the dish altogether, but I decided instead to cook up a pork shoulder and use the pulled pork here instead. It ended up matching the variety of flavors here better than I’d expected, with the rich savoriness of the pork balanced by sweetness from plums, earthiness from mushrooms, and a crunch from almonds. Though the combination might seem unusual, it makes for a unique and elegant salad, great as an appetizer for a fancy meal or as a meal in and of itself.
Pork and Plum Salad
Yield: 4 servings
- 4 slices bacon
- 1 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 head lettuce, torn into pieces
- honey mustard vinaigrette (see below)
- 1 lb pulled pork
- 1/2 lb plums, sliced
- 3/4 cup almonds
- In a large sautee pan over medium heat, cook 4 slices bacon until crisp, about 5 – 10 minutes, then remove from pan, and set aside.
- Add 1 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced to the pan, and sautee in the bacon fat until the mushrooms have released and then reabsorbed their liquid, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and set aside.
- Meanwhile, toss 1 head lettuce, torn into pieces with a couple tablespoons of honey mustard vinaigrette.
- Top the lettuce with 1 lb pulled pork, the cooked mushrooms, 1/2 lb plums, sliced, and 3/4 cup almonds. Crumble the cooked bacon over the top of the salad, and top with more honey mustard vinaigrette.
Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
Yield: about 1/2 cup
- 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard
- 1/2 Tbsp honey
- 6 Tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
In a small bowl, whisk together 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard, and 1/2 Tbsp honey. Drizzle in 6 Tbsp olive oil while whisking to create an emulsion. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and adjust ingredients if needed.