Most likely the influence of eastern European traditions, this lesser known but beloved southern salad involves intentionally wilting tender butter leaf greens with a warm sweet-and- smoky onion-spiked bacon vinaigrette resulting in a supremely satisfying salad you can devour unlabored.
For the warm bacon vinaigrette:
- 3 slices thick cut smoked bacon, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 medium white onion, peeled
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon granulated white sugar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 heads butter lettuce, washed and patted dry, then torn into bite size pieces
- 6 to 8 radishes, shaved or sliced thin
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
Place bacon in large non-stick sauté pan and cook over medium heat until crispy and rendered, about 12 to 15 minutes. Carefully transfer bacon to paper towel lined plate to drain and pour bacon fat into bowl.
Meanwhile, dice 1/2 of white onion and reserve. Shave or slice other half of onion very thin, rinse thoroughly in cold water until crisp, and submerge in cold water until ready to use.
Add 3 tablespoons of bacon fat back to pan along with diced onion and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and cook over medium heat until translucent and soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add water, apple cider vinegar, white sugar, and honey to pan and cook until reduced and syrupy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and fold in scallions. Set aside to cool slightly.
Combine butter leaf lettuce, radishes, shaved white onion (drained), and warm bacon vinaigrette in large mixing bowl and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper as needed. Divide salad evenly among plates or arrange on platter, garnish with crispy bacon, and serve immediately.