Parmesan Fritter Salad with Bacon Buttermilk Dressing

parmesan fritter salad with bacon buttermilk dressing
This was course #2 from my first-day-of-summer dinner. Not your usual salad with tons of different toppings but oh so much flavor thanks to the fritters and dressing. A great crowd pleaser when you are hosting dinner guests but I recommend making the fritters and dressing ahead of time (up to 2 days) to limit your kitchen time when your guests are mingling. Warning: be very careful with this dressing…you may want to lick it all from a spoon and have none left to serve with the salad! It’s that good!

Parmesan Fritter Salad with Bacon Buttermilk Dressing
Serves 6

For the Dressing
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove of garlic, mashed to a paste with a pinch of salt
1 scallion, trimmed and finely chopped
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
3 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise 1/4″ thick and cooked until crisp
For the Fritters and Salad
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and coarsely grated on a box grater
2 cups coarse breadcrumbs
3 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil; more as needed
6 oz. mixed salad greens

To make the dressing:
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, garlic paste, scallion, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper.
2. Crumble the bacon and whisk it in.
3. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

To make the Fritters and assemble the salad:
1. Bring 5 cups of water to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan. Add 1 tsp. salt and the fennel and cook for 2 minutes. Drain in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold water until cool. Press out as much water as possible from the fennel, and then transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Pat dry with more paper towels.
2. In a large bowl, gently mix the fennel with the breadcrumbs, Parmigiano, eggs, garlic, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
3. Heat the  oil in a 12-inch cast-iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat until hot.
4. Using your hands, form a heaping tablespoonful of the Parmesan mixture into a patty about 1/2 inch thick. Add it to the skillet and repeat to make 3 more patties, adding them to the skillet as you form them. Cook, turning once, until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat, in batches, with the remaining Parmesan mixture, adding more oil as needed.
5. In a large bowl, toss the greens with just enough of the dressing to lightly coat. Divide among 6 plates, top with the fritters, and then drizzle with some of the dressing.

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