When did you first have a spinach salad? It was way back in the 80′s for me. Spinach was something I did not like at all. It was because the only way I ever had it was the terrible stuff in a can. I did not know there was anything different. Canned spinach, like the way Popeye ate it. No cartoon could ever make me eat it when I was as kid. Blech.
It all changed when my husband went away for training. He was in Oklahoma and it was the first time we had ever been separated since we met. I missed him terribly and went to visit him. He took me to a restaurant and said I really needed to try the spinach salad. I took his word for it and wow! What really made it so good was the warm bacon dressing. That salad was topped with eggs, mushrooms, and bacon pieces. It was the bomb. Then I started making my own salads and dressings and discovered different toppings I liked even better.
Spinach salad with warm bacon dressing is great for a fall day. Spinach is in season and the warm dressing is nice in the cooler weather. Bacon, cranberries, walnuts, and goat cheese not only go well with the spinach, they also make for a pretty and colorful salad. A green background is dotted with red, white, and a touch of earthy brown. It is a feast for the eyes and the stomach. Serve it with warm french bread and a glass of wine.
What salads do you eat in the cooler seasons? Do your tastes and cravings change with the weather? I know mine do. Now is the time for a spinach salad with warm bacon dressing. After that, who knows? Stay tuned!
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Spinach Salad With Warm Bacon Dressing
- 1 package (5 or 6 ounces) fresh baby spinach
- 3 ounces crumbled goat cheese
- 4 to 5 strips of bacon (regular, not thick sliced)
- Olive oil (if needed)
- 1 small or medium shallot, 1/2 minced and 1/2 sliced thinly
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar or honey
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
Cook the bacon in skillet over medium heat until crispy. Transfer bacon on a plate with paper towels. Pour the bacon fat in a heatproof measuring cup. You will need 1/4 to 1/3 cup for the dressing. If necessary, add enough olive oil to make what you need. Pour the fat/oil back into the pan. Add the finely chopped shallot and cook until translucent. Add the thyme and cook for a minute or two. Stir the sugar into the vinegar and then add to the pan. Season with pepper. Cook for a few minutes to concentrate and lower the acidity of the vinegar. Add the dried cranberries and stir. Turn off the heat & let the cranberries soak up the dressing for a few minutes. Chop the bacon into smaller pieces. In a large bowl combine the spinach, bacon, thinly sliced shallots, and walnuts. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Put salad on plates or in bowls and top with crumbled goat cheese. Enjoy!
If you like the salad more or less oil-y or vinegar-y then adjust amounts of each to your preference. Likewise for toppings, increase or decrease amounts as desired.
Recipe inspired and adapted from one by Michael Chiarello on the Food Network website