Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Warm Bacon Balsamic Vinaigrette

Allow me to introduce you to my latest obsession: warm bacon vinaigrette!  On a chilly day, I decided to put together a nice warm salad with some sweet potatoes and bacon.  I love sweet potatoes and I always have some on hand to round out a meal or add to a salad.  Obviously they are delicious and satisfying,  but they also pack a nutritional punch.  They are full of fiber, vitamins B6, C, and E, and beta-carotene.

Now let’s talk about this dressing!  With the leftover bacon grease, I made a warm vinaigrette to turn it into a robust, syrupy dressing with a hint of bacon in every bite.  Instead of using onions, I opted for shallots because of the sweeter, milder taste which would not distract from the bacon flavor.  It’s the real star of the show here!

But wait until you sprinkle some bacon bits on top.  If you love them as much as I do, it wouldn’t hurt to double that part of the recipe.  They say you only live once.

Kenshin, my designated K9 taste tester, got very excited as I was frying up the bacon.  He waited patiently knowing that I’d save some for him (of course!)  Smart pup :-)

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Warm Bacon Balsamic Vinaigrette
(serves 4)

3 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5 thick-cut bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 large shallot, minced
2 tbsp brown sugar
6 cups mixed salad greens
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Toss sweet potato cubes with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and transfer to a baking sheet.  Roast the sweet potato for about 45 minutes, or until soft and slightly caramelized.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, fry bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon pieces to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving 2 tablespoons of bacon fat in skillet. Add shallots to the pan and cook under low heat, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened. Add balsamic vinegar and sugar, and let the vinaigrette reduce by half. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle warm dressing over salad greens, roasted sweet potatoes, and bacon, and toss gently.  Serve immediately.

*This dressing must be served warm, because the bacon fat would coagulate when cold.

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