Saturday, December 02, 2006

a favorite salad for the Fall Salad event

picture of spinach salad with hot bacon dressing and eggsIn the spring, we're thinking asparagus and fiddlehead ferns. In summer it's tomatoes and basil. And in the fall? Winter squash, or apples, or cold-hardy greens such as spinach. Although the weather we've had so far this fall can hardly be called cold. There are still perennials in my garden and here it is December in what we call The Frozen North! But that's neither here nor there ... (where on earth did that phrase come from, I wonder?)

Since I've blogged quite a bit about apples and butternut squash lately, I thought I would share with you today a favorite recipe for a spinach salad. It is descriptively called "Wilted Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing." When it's cold outside, I'm not usually drawn to green salads nearly as much as in the heat of summer. But with this salad, the bit of wilting and warmth from the dressing is just the thing to make you want to eat greens.

I cannot for the life of me remember where I found the recipe. But, no matter, I'm sure I've modified it beyond recognition since finding it!

I've tripled this recipe for a crowd, and served it on individual plates, with half a sliced egg and a sprinkle of bacon crumbles on top. It's a beautiful presentation that draws appreciative comments from its intended audience, and there are very few plates that come back with any salad on them when the dishes are cleared.

This is one of those dishes that comes together quickly, so it's best to have the ingredients on hand and ready to go before you start it. In particular, you want to make the dressing all in one fell swoop so it's sizzling and aromatic and ready to pour on the spinach immediately.

Speaking of aromatic, you see the step where you add the vinegar? Don't stand with your head over the skillet. It's quite potent!

So, without further ado (I'm full of medieval references today), here's the recipe for

Wilted Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

Serves 4-6
6 oz baby spinach
3 T cider vinegar
1 T sugar
¼ tsp ground black pepper
pinch salt
10 oz (about 8 slices) thick-cut bacon
½ medium red onion, chopped medium (about 1/2 cup)
1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1/2 tsp)
3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and quartered lengthwise or sliced crosswise
  • Put the bacon in the freezer for a half hour. Remove it and thinly slice it crosswise. (I often just pull it frozen from the freezer, slice it, and throw it in the frying pan. If you have thawed bacon and don't have time for freezing it, I recommend frying it in slices and then crumbling rather than trying to cut it while it's soft.)
  • Place the spinach in a large bowl.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar, sugar, pepper and salt until the sugar dissolves.
  • Fry the bacon in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Pour the bacon fat into a bowl, then return 3 tablespoons bacon fat to the skillet. Add the onion to the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.
  • Add the vinegar mixture, then remove the skillet from the heat.
  • Working quickly, scrape the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits. Gradually pour the hot dressing over the spinach while tossing it. It helps to have a second pair of hands here, but if you don't, then pour some, toss, pour some more, toss, etc. The spinach should end up slightly wilted.
  • Divide the salad among individual plates, sprinkle the bacon and arrange the egg quarters over each, and serve immediately.
A big "thanks" goes to Gabriella over at My Life As A Reluctant Housewife for sparking my post about this favorite dish. She's hosting a Fall Salads event this week. If you have a recipe for a fall salad that you'd like to share, blog about it and send it to her by tomorrow, following the event rules which can be found here. If you'd like to see what others have come up with for fall salads, be sure to drop by her site mid-week to catch the roundup.

And, since my blogging has been so sparse and promises to continue to be so for a while, I think I'll have to make this post do double-duty as my entry in Cate's ARF 5-a-day event this week. Please drop by Sweetnicks Tuesday night to see the many other creative recipes focusing on anti-oxidant-rich ingredients that will be featured in her roundup. And be sure to stick around to browse through her fun pictures of sweet Nick and Eli and all the cooking goodies she loves to scout out for us!

And now I'm off to lovingly wrap Christmas packages for mailing Monday to relatives in far-flung places. May your holiday season be as stressless as can be and focused on the Spirit of the season!


Barbara (Biscuit Girl) said...

The salad looks great! I can relate to having your head too close when you add the vinegar. Similar thing happens when cooking with hot peppers.

Nerissa said...

Mmm... spinach and bacon? I'm there with bells on!