BLT Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

BLT salad

This is the first meal I made in our new (summer) home. Nothing revolutionary, but easy, delicious, and just right for when the temperature climbs to a blistering 70 degrees around here. To celebrate, we went for a dunk in Lake Whatcom, which happens to be right outside our door.

Some other tidbits about our move and our new life in Bellingham: 

  • There are deer everywhere up here.  At first, I was incredulous when my Mom suggested Wyatt pursue them with his slingshot.  Then, after noticing they had eaten all my pots down to nothing, I'm reconsidering.
  • Wyatt climbed up in the cherry tree while the moving van was idling in the driveway of our Seattle house. I told him he could have a few last minutes up there. He sobbed so loudly he could be heard down the whole block. It was heartbreaking, but I love that he feels things so deeply. 
  • The Bellingham Farmers Market is indeed amazing. Wyatt got a lavender lemon popsicle and I bought some kale. Of course.
  • Our rental (and the fixer we purchased down the hill!) are right on an interurban trail system. We are in heaven, going for lots of bike rides and spending an inordinate amount of time outside.
  • In spite of not being unpacked yet, in the last five days I have managed to make basil shortbread, a giant platter of carnitas, rhubarb crisp, and have people over for dinner twice. There's some pent-up cooking energy going on, for sure.

This morning, at the kitchen table, the kids chattering in the living room and Yancey still asleep, my parents' cat meowing at the front door, I feel complete. We have landed, and it is good.

BLT Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing
Serves 4. I've given instructions to make one big bowl, but you could plate the salad up individually. 

For salad:
1 large head lettuce, washed and torn
1 bunch watercress, washed and stems (mostly) removed 
2 c. fresh bread cubes
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 lb. bacon, cooked until crispy and coarsely chopped
1 large avocado, cubed 
4 hard-cooked eggs, sliced into wedges 
handful of crumbled feta 

For dressing:
1 medium avocado
juice of one lemon
1/2 bunch cilantro, washed 
salt and pepper
one garlic clove
water to thin 

To make croutons, heat 2 Tb. of olive oil in a heavy skillet.  When oil is hot (but not smoking), add bread cubes, salt, and pepper. Saute until bread is crispy on all sides, but not hard (about 5 minutes). Set aside.

Arrange greens in a large salad bowl. Lightly toss with 1/2 of other ingredients--avocado, feta, bacon, eggs, and croutons. Arrange the rest of ingredients on top of the salad.

To make dressing, combine all ingredients in a food processor or with an immersion blender. Thin with water to desired consistency.

Drizzle dressing over salad.

Farfalle with Kale, Bacon, and Mint

farfalle with kale
Yesterday, home alone for lunch, a few quiet minutes between meetings. How I love weekday lunches at home. Luxury. Especially when wilted kale, salty bacon, and mint are involved. And especially when the work of making it came the night before. One of my absolute favorite things is refried pasta. Have you ever noticed that microwaved leftover pasta is rather unsatisfying? If there's any cream or cheese, it turns to oil. If anything was once crispy, it becomes soggy. So I prefer to heat up the wok or nonstick skillet (pasta will stick to anything else), pour in a bit of olive oil, and crisp everything up.

Then Yancey came home, Loretta in tow, lots of chatter about painting in preschool and who cried for their mom. Yancey heated up the wok again, sat down across from me, and our kitchen saw another day in its life of home office, bistro, and incident command center.

P.S. I have a secret. In the last month, we have been eating mostly rice and beans. When I sit down to menu-plan on Sundays, absolutely nothing comes to mind. I can't seem to remember one single thing I've ever cooked. I have no creativity and scant motivation, so I fill up a bowl and soak more beans. My friend Aimee, whose family came over for Night # 4 of tostadas, said, "Why don't you write about this on your blog?" So I am. You are not alone.

Farfalle with Kale, Bacon, and Mint
I've got kale coming out my ears in my garden. Everything else is rotting, but that little row of kale could feed an army. And I've got tons of herbs still, which is where the mint came from. You can, of course, leave the mint out, sub spinach or chard for the kale, use another kind of pasta, leave the meat out or sub chorizo or other sausage. As always, this is more a record of what I did than a prescription for what you should do. This will serve four hungry adults.


1 lb. farfalle or other pasta
2 bunches kale, washed, ribbed, and coarsely chopped
couple big glugs of olive oil
1 bunch broccolini, stems halved lengthwise and cut into 1" lengths and florets broken up
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. (or more!) thick-sliced bacon, coarsely chopped
1/4 c. good quality sundried tomatoes, julienned
1 c. finely shredded parmesan
finely grated zest and juice of one small lemon
2 red Thai chiles, seeded and finely chopped
handful chopped fresh mint
handful chopped fresh oregano

Set a big pot of salted water on to boil.

In a small bowl, mix 1/4 c. of the parmesan, lemon zest, chopped chiles, and chopped herbs. Set aside.

In a large skillet, crisp up bacon. Remove bacon from pan, reserving most of the bacon fat, and turn down to low.  Add broccolini stems and cook for 5 minutes. Add florets,garlic, salt, and pepper, stirring often, and saute until broccolini is tender, not mushy. Add sundried tomatoes.

Pour pasta into boiling water and cook until tender. At the last minute, throw kale in there, using a spoon to submerge it in the boiling water. Drain pasta and kale, reserving 1/2 c. of cooking water.

To the pasta and kale, add bacon, broccoli mixture, cooking water, parmesan and olive oil.  Stir and divide among pasta bowls, topping each with the herb mixture.