Rush Hour

Summer calls for meals that keep your home cool. That means keeping cooking to a minimum and taking advantage of quick cooking methods like broiling and grilling. It means taking advantage of fresh ingredients and keeping them away from the heat as much as possible. It means finding creative ways to satisfy your cravings without spending hours in the kitchen.

And, of course, it means having salads for dinner.

Now, salad doesn't mean bunny food -- it can be a meal that's both creative and hearty. It can involve both raw ingredients and cooked ones. It can mean finding special ingredients to star in dressings and garnishes and as part of the big picture as well. It certainly doesn't mean you're stuck with iceberg lettuce and bottled salad dressing.

In an effort to celebrate the salad days of summer, I'm kicking off a series of articles devoted to sharing some great main dish salads that take advantage of fresh produce and special ingredients. We start with a bread salad that pairs tomatoes and bacon -- a summer combination if I ever saw one! Drizzle a homemade honey-mustard dressing over the whole thing and you've got one absolutely tasty dinner that your family will be asking for again and again!

As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at . Enjoy!

Bacon-Tomato Bread Salad

  • 1/3 c. coarse brown mustard
  • 1/4 c. roasted garlic oil -- or use a high quality olive oil
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 2 T. rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 lb. bacon -- cooked until crisp and cut into small pieces*
  • 2 medium tomatoes -- sliced into thin wedges
  • 2 green onions -- sliced
  • 2 c. cubed coarse bread -- I like day-old sun-dried tomato bread
  • 12 oz. mixed field greens -- choose the freshest variety available

Combine the mustard, oil, honey and vinegar in a food processor and process the mixture until it's smooth and creamy. Set aside.

Toss the remaining ingredients into a large bowl and drizzle the dressing over it. Toss the salad to combine and evenly coat with the dressing. Serve the salad immediately -- it's a great dish enjoyed outdoors!

* A note on the bacon: I like to cook bacon in the oven by placing it on a wire rack suspended over a sturdy sheet pan. Put the pan near the top of a cold oven and turn the broiler on HIGH. Watch the bacon carefully after 3 minutes and remove it from the oven when it's very crisp.
  • Yields: 3 main course servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes