I think of this salad as "The Nannie" salad. Not Fran Drescher, but MY Nannie, my grandmother. I don't remember my mom making it very often but I remember my grandmother making it all the time. As a kid I thought it was pretty good, you know, for something that was supposed to be good for me. I loved the bite of the vinegar, the sweet of the sugar, and trying to hog (I know, bad pun) all the crunchy, salty bacon pieces out of it. Now I love it for all those reasons plus the emotion that it is one of the defining salads of spring, not to mention that by the time you wilt a bucketful of lettuce I feel so good about myself for eating that huge vegetable serving without even realizing it had I not been the one to wilt it.
However, for all the healthy goodness of the fresh lettuces, the big no-no to this salad is the half pound of bacon my grandmother fried to use the grease to make it. Last night at dinner, after watching me prepare this with olive oil as a base, Gene commented "My grandmother used bacon grease for this." I said "So did mine but our grandmothers didn't have your heart disease and they didn't know better." He laughed and said "It was just an observation" and he left nary a leaf in his bowl when he was done so I guess olive oil works just fine.
I admit I love the bacon too but there has to be a better, healthier way. There is. It's easy if you substitute olive oil for the bacon grease and use Hormel or Oscar Meyer real bacon pieces for the crunch and flavor. The packaged cooked bacon pieces are real, just the lean parts of the bacon and they only have 25 calories and 1 gram of fat per tablespoon. It's a substitute I can definitely live better with.
Glenna's Healthier Wilted Lettuce Salad
recipe by Glenna Anderson Muse
Recipe is for 2 generous servings but can be easily multiplied for larger batches.
4 large handfuls of young spring leaf lettuces
1 Tbsp Olive oil (use the good stuff)
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
3 Tbsp vinegar (I use balsamic or raspberry balsamic)
2 Tbsp Hormel or Oscar Meyer real bacon pieces
1 Tbsp honey (local and raw preferred)
1 green onion, chopped
3-4 radishes, quartered or sliced
Have all ingredients prepared and measured, set up within a hand's reach and ready to go. This preparation goes fairly fast so you want the lettuces washed and dried and all the other ingredients ready.
1. In a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat, saute the garlic for a minute or two in the olive oil. Do not burn.
2. Add vinegar, honey, and bacon, and bring to a bubble, stirring to dissolve honey. Turn off heat under skillet.
3. Add lettuces all at once, and with tongs, turn lettuces quickly a few times to coat in dressing. Divide salad into two bowls and spoon leftover dressing over top. Garnish with onions and radishes and serve immediately.
Nutrition per serving: Calories: 130; Protein: 3; Carbs: 17; Fat: 8; Fiber: 1; Weight Watchers Points: 3 plus 1 healthy oil serving