As a gifted cook married to a soldier on campaign, Rose in A Dream Defiant knows how to make the best use of whatever ingredients are available to her. This BLT Bread Salad recipe, which I adapted from similar recipes on Good Eats and in Cooking Light, is the best use I know for the summer bounty of fresh, local tomatoes. I make it year round, but with farmers’ market or garden tomatoes and the best bacon you can find it’s something truly special.
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BLT Bread Salad
(serves 6 as a side dish but can be easily demolished by 2 as dinner)
6 c. cubed French bread or other firm white bread
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 bag precut romaine or similar lettuce
5 medium tomatoes or a pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 green onions
4 slices bacon (I sometimes use 6 if I have really good bacon)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cook bacon, let drain and cool before crumbling.
3. Chop tomatoes and green onion, set aside. (You can seed the tomatoes too if desired, especially if yours have a lot of squishy, pulpy innards.)
4. Slice bread into bite-sized cubes, place on cookie sheet, and toss with melted butter. Bake until lightly toasted, 5-10 minutes.
5. Combine vinegar and next seven ingredients (through cayenne pepper) in a small bowl, whisk till well-blended, set aside.
6. Add lettuce, tomatoes, onion, crumbled bacon, and bread cubes to a large salad bowl; toss to blend. Pour dressing over salad, toss until everything is well coated. Serve immediately.
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Elijah Cameron, the son of runaway slaves, has spent his whole life in the British army proving that a black man can be as good a soldier as a white man. After a victory over the French, Elijah promises one of his dying men that he will deliver a scavenged ruby necklace to his wife, Rose, a woman Elijah has admired for years.
Elijah feels bound to protect her and knows a widow with a fortune in jewels will be a target. Rose dreams of using the necklace to return to England, but after a violent attack, she realizes that she needs Elijah's help to make the journey safely.
Her appreciation for Elijah's strength and integrity soon turns into love, but he doubts she could want a life with him, knowing the challenges they'd face. As their relationship grows, she must convince Elijah that she wants him as more than a bodyguard. And she must prove that their love can overcome all obstacles, no matter the color of their skin.
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