For the croutons:
4 slices white bread, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, very finely minced
¼ teaspoon oregano
⅛ teaspoon chili flakes
For the dressing:
½ lb. bacon, cut into 1 inch strips
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoon umeboshi vinegar
2 anchovies, finely minced
1 tablespoon reserved bacon fat, melted
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
2 large garlic cloves, very finely minced
⅓ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
sea salt, to taste
For the salad:
6 stalks of curly kale, washed, stem removed and torn into bite sized pieces
Optional: 1 cup red grapes, cut in half
For the croutons: Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Place the bread cubes in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil, garlic, oregano and chili flakes. Pour the bread cubes onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake them in the oven for 15 minutes, or until they are crunchy. You want them to dry out, not toast. If they haven't dried out after 15 minutes leave them in the oven a little longer.
For the dressing: Slice the bacon into 1 inch strips (I always have some bacon in the freezer and find it very easy to slice from frozen) Place the bacon in a frying pan over medium high heat and cook, stirring often for 7-8 minutes, or until the bacon is crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan using a slotted spoon and reserve 1 tablespoon of the fat.
Place the room temperature egg yolks in a medium sized bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and whisk them together. SLOWLY drizzle in the vegetable oil while whisking constantly. Once the dressing starts to thicken you can pour the oil in a little faster.
Once all the oil has been incorporated whisk in the remaining ¼ cup of fresh lemon juice, the umeboshi vinegar, anchovies, reserved bacon fat, fresh cracked pepper, garlic and parmesan cheese. Season to taste with sea salt.
To assemble the salad: Place the washed kale in a large bowl. Add the crispy bacon, and optional grapes. Pour the dressing overtop and toss so that everything is coated well. Let the dressing sit on the kale for at least 5 minutes before you serve it. Toss the croutons through the salad immediately before you serve it.