A good salad dressing recipe is hard to find. Mine are usually last minute affairs. I start whisking and praying and tasting and adjusting. However, this one was purposeful and it is delicious.
My friend Patricia Wood, decorator beyond compare, wife of Bubba, and all around great lady, recently challenged me to figure out why a particular dressing is so flipping good. We did some forensic eating to figure out how we could get into the same ballpark. And, we did. This is not a copy. This isn’t the recipe for Coca-Cola. This is just an homage dressing. It is a slightly lesser (I will admit) cousin of the original, which still has something special beyond my abilities or knowledge. I will visit the original no fewer times for having come up with a reasonable facsimile. But, I think I just gained a permanent addition to my dressing collection.
The original dressing we were fawning over is made by a restaurant here in Dallas called Cafe R + D. It is one of those rare jewels of a restaurant that doesn’t seem to have off days. And while it is part of a larger restaurant chain, the menu is inventive and varied, and the waitstaff is really quite phenomenal. I have a special place in my heart for excellent waitstaff, as you know. As someone who is a decent home cook, one of the greatest benefits of eating out for me is being doted upon by good staff. I wonder if they ever notice that my eyes get misty when they set a plate of hot well prepared food in front of me, or even better, when they take the dirty dishes away from me and some wonderful person in the back actually cleans them. When my iced tea glass never gets lower than half full, I know I am in a happy place. Cafe R + D is a place with an open kitchen so that you actually get to watch the efficiency and the speed and the good work in action. And, my fixation with angelic service aside for a moment, the food is always good.
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1½ tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar (up to 2 Tablespoons, to taste)
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon finely chopped bacon (about 1 slice)
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1. Cook the bacon until it is just under crispy. Remove the fattier spots, and chop up the bacon into fine bits.
2. Combine all of the ingredients in a lidded jar and shake it until the ingredients are well combined.
That’s it. Taste it and add a little salt and pepper. If you like a tangier dressing, you can add the additional tablespoon of Champagne vinegar.
I believe white wine vinegar to be a perfectly valid substitution if you do not want to purchase Champagne vinegar for this dressing. However, consider it. It is just another fun tool in the toolbox. If you haven’t tried it, give it a whirl. May I also recommend that you buy good smoked bacon at your butcher or deli. You only need one slice. Though, I dare you to try to actually cook one slice. I’m not sure I’ve ever done that before. It just seems sad. I’ll always cook a few extra for the hobbits that follow me around my kitchen. Plus, if I were to cook just one and leave the room for even a second, either my dog or my husband would eat it. Then where would I be? My odds of having one slice of bacon for the dressing are just a bit better if I fill the griddle pan.
The salad…yes. Very tasty. Cube 4 ounces of mozzarella, chop 3 slices of bacon, cube an avocado, and slice a pint of grape tomatoes in half. Mix with the dressing, to taste. Adorn with torn leaves of fresh basil. It is a simple combination elevated by a tangy, sweet and savory dressing.