Warm Lettuce is Tasty

While I like to think that I am an adventurous eater, I have frequently been accused of being a picky one. In reality, I just have clear preferences. For instance, I will eat squishy, white bread even if I don't really want to. But eat it I will. And if that squishy, white bread accompanies some really tasty barbecue, I will eat it without complaining.

However, that's certainly not barbecue in the picture -- it's a rather homely salad. For a long time, I've lumped green salads in with squishy, white bread. They've never been a favorite, but I eat them because a little roughage is good for the body and builds ones character (I hope). Eating salads French-style, after the main course, has helped me warm up to them a little. Tangy vinaigrette and crisp, watery leaves are a refreshing palate cleanser after a richer meal. Still, not everyone wants to wait for their salad, and this pontormo salad is one I will happily eat before a meal. A little scrambled egg and salty pancetta wilt salad greens ever so slightly, and the extra savory ingredients make the dish satisfying enough when I'm starving and ready for some "real food."

Pontormo Salad with Egg and Pancetta

This salad is inspired by one served at Cesare Casella's late restaurant Maremma. I rarely use dried herbs, but he used them successfully in his salad. Since the herbs get cooked with the pancetta, I suspect they stand up to the heat better than fresh ones would.

1 small spoon red wine vinegar
1 small spoon balsamic vinegar
1 small spoon red wine
pinch salt
few grinds of pepper
4 big spoons good olive oil
1 big spoon mixed dried herbs (use any combination that you like, preferably Italian herbs)
3 ounces pancetta, sliced and cut into strips
6 eggs
salt and pepper
1 head of dark green lettuce, washed and torn into bite-size pieces

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the vinegars and the wine in a small bowl. Whisk in the salt and pepper, then two spoons of the olive oil.

Place the remaining olive oil, herbs and pancetta in a large frying pan and cook over medium heat. When the pancetta is transparent, after about 5, beat together the eggs, salt and pepper and scramble them in the pan. They shouldn't be too dry.

Dress the greens and mix with the eggs. Serve immediately

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