The best way to deal with chewy salad greens is to wilt them slightly with a dressing of hot bacon and vinegar. Smoked bacon, cut in a meaty dice that the French call lardons, is perfect for this salad, which serves for as a first course or light lunch.

Serves 4
A medium head of curly chicory or escarole (about ¾ lb/375 g)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
A 4-oz/125-g piece of smoked lean bacon, diced
1/3 cup/75 ml red wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Discard the tough outer green leaves from the chicory or escarole and trim the root end. Separate the pale center leaves and tear any large leaves in 2 or 3 pieces. Wash and dry the leaves thoroughly and put them in a salad bowl.

2. Just before serving, heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the bacon until lightly browned, stirring often. Discard all but about 4 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Pour the remaining hot fat and bacon over the greens and toss rapidly until they are slightly wilted, ½ – 1 minute. Add the vinegar to the hot pan (stand back from the fumes) and bring to a rolling boil for 30 seconds, stirring to dissolve the pan juices. Pour the vinegar over the greens and toss again. Sprinkle the salad with freshly ground black pepper and serve at once.