Wednesday, June 16, 2010

BLT salad with buttermilk dressing and crumbled gorgonzola cheese for an easy, comforting meal

We’ve been traveling a little lately, both on the roads and byways, but also the virtual highway. As you know we recently visited Larry and Bev at “Almost Heaven South” on beautiful Lake Tellico and attended a wonderful blogger get-together.

We then headed south on the interstate and stopped at Roswell Air Force Base near Macon, Georgia and toured their Aviation Museum on our way to Florida. There are four hangers each with a theme. Hanger One was the favorite. It is devoted to WW II with each area featuring a specific plane on the ground with workers nearby doing the service work in preparation for the next mission.

My husband Meakin is a licensed pilot and has been for some 40 odd years. We don’t fly much anymore, but I can count on the fact that if an airplane flies over head he’s going to look up.

We’ve also been traveling on the virtual highway, searching for our ancestors. My heart skipped a beat when I first saw the words Plymouth, Massachusetts associated with both of our relatives. Amazingly, it turns out, we are both descendants of The Mayflower.

I am a descendent of John Alden, who is said to be the first person from the Mayflower to set foot on Plymouth Rock in 1620. He was one of the founders of Plymouth Colony and the seventh signer of the Mayflower Compact.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, also one of Alden’s descendants, wrote the famous verse, The Courtship of Miles Standish. According to the legend, John Alden started out to win the hand of Priscilla for his friend Miles Standish, but instead won her hand for himself. Priscilla’s famous quote being, “Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?” They married in 1623.

Meakin is a descendant of John Howland, also one of the founders of Plymouth Colony. You may have read about the man who was accidently thrown overboard the Mayflower in your history books. It was John Howland. One night he grew restless below and stepped onto the decks above for some air. Howland was from the English inland and quickly discovered that in a gale the decks of a ship were no place for a landsman.  Suddenly when the Mayflower lurched forward, Howland tumbled into the sea. Fortunately he managed to grab a topsail halyard from the ship that was floating in the water and was hauled back aboard safely.

Both the Alden Home and the Howland Home are museums, so now we’re planning a trip to New England in the fall to tour Plymouth and then on to Maine to stuff ourselves with lobster until it starts to come out of our ears.

Whether we’re traveling the car or on the virtual highway, often we’re tired when dinner time rolls around. That’s when I pull out a simple and easy comfort food recipe, such as this BLT salad. Fortunately I’ve been able to find “Ugly” heirloom tomatoes in our market for several months now so that’s what I used. The “Ugly” heirlooms are full of flavor and with one taste you’ll swear it’s already the middle of summer. If you can find apple wood smoked bacon, such as Nueskie’s from Wisconsin, so much the better.

BLT salad with buttermilk dressing and gorgonzola cheese
Adapted from The Beach House Cookbook by Barbara Scott-Goodman

¼ pound thick, apple wood smoked bacon, cut in large dice
2 cups mixed salad greens
2 cups torn romaine lettuce leaves
2 large ripe tomatoes, preferably heirloom, diced
3-4 tablespoons crumbled gorgonzola cheese

½ cup good mayonnaise, such as Hellman’s
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
2 tablespoons each of chopped fresh basil and Italian flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sauté bacon until crisp and drain well on a paper towel to cool. While the bacon is cooking, whisk the mayonnaise, vinegar, lemon juice together in a small bowl. Add the buttermilk, onion, basil and parsley. Whisk again and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss the greens together with the dressing in a large salad bowl. Taste again for seasonings. Arrange greens on a platter and top with tomatoes, bacon and crumbled gorgonzola. Serves 4 – 6.


  1. How exciting to be able to trace your roots back to Plymouth! I think it's a great idea to visit both the Alden and Howland Homes though I've never been to New England myself.

  2. Oh my! That salad sounds wonderful! Our kitchen motto is 'Everything's better with bacon!'

  3. What an interesting post!and that salad is right up my alley!

  4. Your lives are full of discovery-cheers to you!
    Bacon and gorgonzola is one of my favorite flavor combinations. Everything tastes better.

  5. The above post is from me (Velva) Not sure why it posted my email address. Sorry.

  6. Easy and delicious. Great idea for lunch today!

  7. This is my idea of a perfect salad, Sam. And I think I have all the ingredients in the fridge. This will be lunch today.

    What interesting family histories you both have. Isn't it fun to dig into it? I love reading about my family and their struggles to get to American.

  8. I'm afraid to trace my family tree back very far :-). With buttermilk dressing and bacon, it has got to be good and it looks delicious. Glad you guys had a good trip.

  9. In many ways still...I find myself in awe of what our virtual highway has managed to bring to us by ways of tremendous discovery ;o) Nice to read that it has brought you a small slice of your personal history too.
    Your salad dressing ingredients seem to have a certain merriment of flavours to them. I could only imagine how sublime it must be. Well, I'll have to try this one too;o)
    Have a great week and flavourful wishes, Claudia

  10. Lovely and informative post! I must try this buttermilk dressing!

  11. It is so much fun to look into our history as well as do a little but of arnchair travelling. I hope you travel to Maine and visit the place of your ancestors soon Sam.

  12. How cool that you and your husband are both descendants from the Mayflower pilgrims! I do a lot of genealogy research, though for our families it's a lot harder because most of the records are very hard to find in Eastern Europe past a certain number of generations.

    The salad looks terrific! Yummy with the addition of gorgonzola!

  13. What a perfect summer meal, full of great flavors! It's on my list to make.

    How interesting that you were both descendants of The Mayflower! Isn't it amazing where the virtual highway can take you?

  14. I love "ugly" heirloom tomatoes and anything with a buttermilk dressing has to be good - interesting history for the two of you - I need to check deeper into mine...

  15. How great that you found out you are Mayflower decendants!

    That salad sounds like the perfect supper for a hot summer day.

  16. This salad looks wonderful - such great, comforting weeknight food. I've been looking for a good buttermilk dresing, so I'm excited to try this. Thanks!

  17. Sam, I am SO happy you're feeling better and can travel! YEA! And I love the salad you shared with us. Looks delicious.

    As to genealogy, I'm a genealogy buff, too, and have New England ancestry on Daddy's side (also Jamestown ancestry). John Whipple had a ton of descendants (I'm one of jillions), but be sure to check the Whipple website and see if you tie into those lines anywhere. There are fascinating people on there from presidents to writers (FDR, Coolidge, Clara Barton, Susan B. Anthony, Tennessee Williams, Mark Twain, Dick Cheney, etc.) John Whipple was an early settler in Ipswich, and supposedly the Whipple House is one of the oldest colonial houses left standing in America. It's neat. We saw it a few years ago, and it was an interesting tour with some info I had never heard before in my history studies.


    Sheila :-)

  18. Well, Sam, I too am related to John and Priscilla!! You found some interesting material and history. I would like to go to Plymouth Rock one day.

  19. If it has Nueske's bacon, I am there. My always-indulgence even when watching weight and cholesterol. The virtual highway is an amazement. As soon as I hit Italy, all roads end. All the records kept in churches are in disarray - most churches were bombed through two wars. I love finding connections and I think it is fascinating that you are both doing so. Look forward to more info as you visit New England landmarks.

  20. great salad and so cool your know your history like that love it

  21. What an intrguing post! Thanks for sharing it with us Sam. Also, thanks for another great salad recipe, this one is a keeper...A.J. and I will enjoy this!

  22. Wow! Both of your descendants are of the Mayflower! It's incredible that you were able to trace back your heritage to those figures.

    I think heirlooms tomatoes are the best, the uglier the better!

  23. now that is one incredible salad!! bacon and gorgonzola....yummm

  24. Wonderful post. Interesting family history you have. Mine are decendants of different ships that came from an island 90 miles off the coast of Key West.

    I love your so much flavor per forkful. Great job.


  25. It is so neat to be able to trace one's ancestry especially when it comes back to such exciting times;
    Love that salad and the great bacon!

  26. It sounds like you've been a busy woman. What fun to discover those relatives on both sides of the family. Your salad, Sam, is a visual fiesta and I'm sure it is wonderfully good. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  27. Sam, have you ever been to Plymouth before? It is such a wonderful place to visit. At the restored Plymouth plantatation, they live, work and speak as if it were that time in history. It's like stepping back in time completely. The actually town of Plymouth is also filled with historic connections. Even the cemetary is fascinating! I can't wait to hear about your adventures on the upcoming trip!

  28. Your salad picture is beautiful and oh my it sounds delicious!!

  29. What fun to discover your roots go back to the Mayflower, Sam. Both of you could be DAR and SAR. Have you considered it?

    A BLT is my second favorite sandwich...and a salad made with those ingredients (and delicious, but ugly heirlooms) would be marvelous.

  30. Now, this is my kind of salad! I've been wanting a recipe for a good buttermilk dressing...thanks!

  31. Fascinating post!

    I have been eating a lot of Tuscan style "Bread Salads" lately, your salad would fit right in, adding good sourdough cut into cubes and sauteed in a bit of olive oil.

    No tomatoes are tastier than what they nowadays call "heirloom" tomatoes. I do miss the taste of a good old BLT sandwich, it simply tastes better in the USA, especially when made with a big fat slice of one of those heirlooms (quick, to the sink before I mess up my keyboard!).

    We drove be Macon so often, unfortunately either the kids were too small to enjoy it or we simply needed to go on on our journey to reach our destination. We did spend a lot of time at the Air and Space Museum in DC, we all have such fond memories of that wonderful place.

  32. I would just love to spend a few days with you cooking! you have so much l to give through your food! I feel satisfied and happy just looking!

    And this is a perfect hearty salad!

  33. Thak you for sharing with us a tale of your family history exploration! Very interesting indeed. And the salad looks delicious!

  34. Michael too has been searching his ancestry since the recent loss of both parents. It is alot of fun and very interesting. Thank you for sharing this wonderful salad and story.

  35. That is some fascinating history you both have! Amazing! And so cool that you can actually visit places where your ancestors lived.

    Love this salad, so simple and tasty. Love that dressing!

  36. what a delightful blog. I am having "your" shrimp and grits recipe this evening and also printed out several salad recipes to fix while we are at the beach for vacation in two weeks. thanks you!

  37. Enjoyed the geneology; my Dad is obcessive about ours. We have a relative who came over on the Mayflower, also. I'll have to get the name!

    The salad looks "to die for". When is lunch?

  38. Sam- I love your posts! Really I do, the stories and this salad, well I think it would fit nicely into my eating plan! Now I am drooling for bacon with a buttermilk dressing smile!

  39. Hi Sam. How lucky for the both of you to be related so far back to the first settlers. I know your trip will be fulfilling in many ways. Love bacon and love this salad.

  40. Sam,
    How interesting you're descendants of the Mayflower. This salad sure looks delicious. Bacon gives food a good flavor.

  41. Bonjour dear Sam!

    Your husband is a pilote!! Waw!! Lucky you!!

    This salad & the dressing looks incredibly tasty & it looks wonderful too!

  42. Sam, I am just finding your site and really enjoying myself while here. Love the stories you put into your posts. Warm and personal... and oh yeah, wonderful food posts.

    Just wanted to let you know, I posted my attempts at your orange salad today. I am living on a tropical island (St Thomas), so I will bet you will appreciate the challenges of island shopping. I am afraid I became Olive challenged, and had disappointing results (solely due to my cheapness). But I adapted into something I really liked... Come see

    My year on the Grill

  43. Sam- Thank you for commenting at my site. Somehow I've missed a lot of your posts. I just added you to my blogroll so that I won't miss anymore.

    I always love reading your posts and think it is so cool that you studying your ancestors. How amazing it is to discover you were relating to the folks on the Mayflower.

    The salads looks delicious. I love the combo of gorgonzola (or any blue cheese) with bacon. Delicious!

  44. As an avid genealogist I found your post so exciting!! Genealogy is so much fun and gives one such a feeling of connectedness.

    The salad has all of my favorites. I will me making this soon. The dressing sounds delicious, too.

  45. What a wonderful, delicious salad!
    Looks too good!

  46. Hi Sam,
    What a wonderful your blog.
    Being a MA native and growing up very near Plymouth, I thought I should tell you about The Mayflower Society in Plymouth. Are you aware of it? It is housed in one of the most beautiful buildings in town and they work very hard connecting people to their roots. My best friend is a Mayflower Descendant - Clark.
    I now live out on the ellbow of Cape Cod in Chatham but visit Plymouth very often. Beautiful place.

  47. My husband and I love genealogy research, too.

    This salad looks and sounds delicious. And, it just might be our dinner tomorrow night.

  48. The combination of bacon, tomatoes and gorgonzola sounds appetizing. I am going to write these ingredients on my food list and shall buy them on my next trip to the market. How great that you can go back so far about your families. I know my great grandmother was French nobility but I do not know how to spell the name and have not been able to find anything about it – I usually don’t stay long enough in France to do the research. Then on my father’s side, it’s impossible, because he was an Armenian from Turkey.
    New England in the fall is splendid – we were in Maine last September and wished we could stay there longer.

  49. Yummy!!! And who knew you 2 were famous : ) Neat geneology!

  50. This sounds like a great salad to try! I don't need so much bread anyway! I love the gorgonzola cheese addition too! Thanks, Roz


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