Summer salads are a staple in my house — a great break from the hot oven, stove or even the barbecue grill. But, if a meal doesn't include meat, my family members think it's an appetizer. So I am always looking for a way to incorporate protein in every entree. Our judges have the same philosophy. For some dishes, bacon bits are a great option. They add a touch of salty, meaty flavor without overpowering a bowl of greens, vegetables or starches. We found four brands of real bacon bits (not the hard, imitation variety) and compared each for appearance, texture and flavor. In the end, most judges said they likely would take the time to fry up a few strips of bacon when they need a little extra flavor for a dish, although a couple of these packaged options might work in a pinch.
Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent