Only in London can you get 29 degrees one day, and 13 degrees 2 days later. Grr, I refuse to believe the days of salad and sunshine are over. My wool coat is still tucked away in a large vacuum-sealed bag. And before soup and stews and curries take over, here's a salad to bridge the gap-- a warm salad, one not made with the leafy greens of spring, but what fall has to offer. The dressing is really simple, made with the fat from cooking the bacon--salivate-- and some ginger for a bit of needed heat.
Pear, Fennel and Bacon Salad, with Warm Ginger Dressing
1 bulb of fennel
1 ripe Conference pear
2 strips of streaky bacon (from happy pigs), cut into small pieces
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1-2 tsp sweet rice vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
1. Slice the fennel bulb thinly, same goes for the pear. Mince the ginger.
2. Over medium heat, cook the bacon in some evoo till crisp and its fat oozes out. Transfer the bacon to some kitchen towels to drain.
3. Add the sesame oil to the bacon fat in the pan, saute the ginger till fragrant. Remove from heat and whisk in the rice vinegar and black pepper.
4. Combine pear, fennel and bacon, pour the warm ginger dressing over, and sprinkle with fennel leaves.
The crunchy fennel goes really well against the soft juicy pear, and the sweetness of the pear in turn goes really well against the salty crispy bacon. There's the familiar warming flavours of ginger and aniseed (from the fennel), and I also scattered some fennel leaves around for colour and freshness and because I don't like wasting any part of my food. Everything was very impromptu as it usually is, but I think it worked out fine.
But ok I admit, just listening to the wind outside, I really would rather some soup now. Fine, fine the sunshine days are over ):