Spinach & bacon salad

You all know that when I’m not quilting I love to cook (and eat).  Here is a favorite salad of mine – great even in the winter, because it’s warm and hearty.

Warm Spinach & Bacon Salad

For each serving, use:

1/4 – 1/3 pound spinach
1/4 pound of bacon
1 hard-boiled egg
1/4 red onion
1/4 pound sliced mushrooms
2-3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2-3 Tablespoons honey

Preparation:

If the eggs are not hard-boiled already, start them first.  Put them in a saucepan with tap water just covering them.  Put them on the stove and bring to a boil.  If the eggs and water are room temperature time them 15 minutes from when you turn on the stove.* If the eggs come directly from the fridge and/or the water is quite cold (as it sometimes is in winter), time them 16-17 minutes from when you turn on the stove.  When time is up, pour off the hot water and fill the pan with cold water.  Leave them to cool while you prepare the salad.

(* I have a gas stove – it may take longer for an electric range.  Another way to time: set the timer for 7-8 minutes right when the water begins to boil.)

After you have started the eggs cooking, cut the bacon into small pieces (about 1/2″ wide) and start it frying.  Stir it every couple of minutes while you do the next steps.  You want to cook it just until it is crispy, but don’t burn it!

While the bacon is cooking:
(Note: Be sure to wash your hands, chopping area and knife thoroughly with soap and warm water after touching the bacon and before cutting the vegetables.)

1- Wash and dry the spinach; tear it into bite-size pieces and put it in a large bowl that will leave you room to toss the salad.

2-Wash and slice the mushrooms.  Put them in the bowl with the spinach

3-Cut the red onion into slices, then into half- or quarter-rings.  Don’t put them in the bowl yet.

4-Peel the hard-boiled eggs and cut them into wedges or slices.  Set them aside until the end.

When the bacon is just barely crispy, use a spoon to scoop out and throw away most of the fat, leaving 1-2 Tablespoons per serving. (Put the grease in the trash, not the sink.)  Return the pan to the stove.  Pour the balsamic vinegar into the pan (don’t put your face over the pan while you do this, as the vinegary steam can be quite strong).  Squeeze the honey into the pan – start with less, you can add more to your taste.  Turn the burner on at the lowest setting and stir together the bacon, fat, vinegar and honey just until it begins to bubble a bit around the edges.  Taste the dressing to see if it is sweet enough for you – if not, add a bit more honey.

Pour the hot dressing over the spinach and mushrooms, then toss the salad to spread the dressing over everything.  The spinach will wilt just a bit, which makes it tender.  Add the red onion and toss again.  Put salad on a serving dish and top with sliced hard-boiled eggs.

Here’s another version I found online that uses mustard and shallots in the dressing, and pomegranate seeds in the salad.  I’ll have to give this a try next time – sounds divine!  http://www.atigerbythetail.com/?p=434

Enjoy! ~ RaNae

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