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Kale Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

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A hearty salad with a smooth, rich dressing that hits all of the right points: tender kale, crunchy carrots, smokey bacon, tangy mustard, sweet maple. Serve as a side or, with the hard boiled eggs and sautéed mushrooms, there is enough here to be a meal by itself.

This recipe is deceptive; don’t let the long list of steps fool you: it’s easy and quick to put together. And if the eggs or mushrooms don’t strike your fancy, skip them: this is just as delicious without them.

1 bunch kale
3 medium carrots
1 small red onion, or 2 large shallots, or 1 medium leek
6 oz mushrooms, Oyster or button
3 eggs, hard boiled
6 slices bacon
2 tbsp cider vinegar, or red or white wine vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup (or sugar)
½ teaspoon dijon mustard
1 dash salt

Hard Boil the Eggs
1. Put the eggs in a medium pot, cover them with water and bring it all to a boil.
2. Once it boils, turn off the heat and allow to sit in water for 10-20 minutes.
3. Drain the water and cover the eggs with ice.

Cook the Bacon
1. Cut bacon strips in 1/2 and spread them out in a large skillet over low heat. Fry until crispy/chewy, flipping and moving the strips around as needed so they cook evenly.
2. When the bacon is done, remove it from the pan and set aside 3 tbsp of the bacon fat in a small bowl.  (This is for the dressing.)

Meanwhile…
1. While the eggs are boiling and the is bacon frying, prep the veggies: peel, trim and thin slice the onion (or shallots or leeks). Rinse and thin slice the mushrooms. Rinse and trim off both ends from the carrots.  Rinse, destem and coarsely shred the kale.
2. Make the carrot ribbons: with a carrot lying flat on a cutting board, run a veggie peeler along the whole length, pressing firmly.  (Discard or eat this strip.)  Turn the carrot over so it rests on the spot you just peeled.  Now repeat the last step, pressing firmly, until the carrot is too thin to do any more.  The first few passes with the peeler are usually puny, or floppy, or broken, but after that they should start coming off as wide but really thin slices that curl right up.  Fun!  Repeat with the other carrots.
3. When the bacon is done, add 2 tbsp of bacon fat (not what you reserved for the dressing) to a medium skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the onions and cook slowly until onions are caramelized or browned and reduced. Remove to a plate and set aside.
4. Now add the mushrooms to the same skillet and cook slowly until also caramelized and brown. Remove to a plate and set aside.
5. Chop the bacon coarsely and peel and slice the eggs.

Make the Warm Bacon Dressing
1. In a small saucepan or skillet over medium-low heat, add the 3 tbsp of reserved bacon fat, plus the vinegar, sugar, and Dijon. Whisk mixture together and heat thoroughly, but don’t let it boil.

Finally…
1. Add kale to a large bowl then arrange carrots, onions, mushrooms, and bacon on top. Pour hot dressing over the top and toss everything to combine.
2. Arrange eggs over the top and serve.

Notes: The original recipe (from The Pioneer Woman) called for spinach, so you can use that if you prefer.  The eggs can be hard boiled and refrigerated hours, even days, in advance.  If so, you can skip the ice step.  If your bacon is unfortunately lean, you can always substitute olive oil for some or all of it.