Remembering George: Salad Al Forno

If you live in New England, particularly Rhode Island or Massachusetts, you may be familiar with the restaurant Al Forno in Providence. George Germon and Johanne Killeen opened it in 1980 with the goal of serving simple, good, local food.  Before the term “farm to table” made its way around foodie circuits, George and Johanne perfected the grilled pizza they shared on trips to Italy.  The restaurant was one of the first to show the city how world class cuisine is done. In 1993, George and Johanne won the James Beard Award for Best Chefs in the Northeast and the best causal restaurant in the world by International Herald Tribune.

The Boston Globe recently paid a lovely tribute to George and what he created for Providence.

Cucina Simpatica is one of my favorite cookbooks. It’s tattered, stained and one of the first to teach me how to cook.  The Salad Al Forno is a great staple, particularly in the winter. It is somehow both comfort food and salad.

Salad Al Forno

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 cups finely shredded cabbage
  • 3 ounces slab bacon, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (or about 1/2 heaping cup)
  • 3 cups mixed bitter greens (radicchio, endive, escarole)
  • 3 cups mixed leafy lettuces

Directions

  1. Make a vinaigrette by whisking together the mustard and 1/4 cup vinegar in a large mixing bowl.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Add up to 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and then fold in the cabbage. Set aside for one hour at room temperature so the cabbage has a chance to marinate. Or you may prepare the recipe up to this point and refrigerate overnight. Allow cabbage to return to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.
  2. Preheat broiler, and lay out the bacon on a pie plate or baking sheet  Line the baking sheet with foil for easier clean-up. 
  3. Broil the bacon, turning it once, for about 5 minutes, or until it browns.
  4. Remove the bacon form the broiler, and immediately add the remaining vinegar to the pan. Swirl together, and pour the vinegar and bacon into the cabbage.  Toss to combine.
  5. Line a large platter or individual salad plates with the bitter greens and lettuces.  Top with the cabbage mixture and serve immediately.

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