To celebrate the last day of January, and the possible end of many people’s resolutions to stay fit and trim during the New Year, we’re pleased to present a delicious dish that can be made in a healthy way…or with a bit of decadence. I’m a total sucker for salads of all kinds, but once you start adding bacon and warm dressing, I totally lose control. The first time I made this dish (the regular version), I was having a dinner party for some friends from work. I served it as an appetizer to Boeuf Bourguignon, and I was honestly extremely sad to see how quickly the salad disappeared onto people’s plates – it didn’t leave much for me! I made it again for Frank one night after a hard workout (the decadent version) and we were literally licking our plates. There’s just something about fresh spinach, crispy red onion, and a warm bacon vinaigrette that leaves you full and satisfied, but still feeling energetic and healthy. I know, I know, buttered mushrooms and fried bacon don’t always get categorized as “healthy”, but everything in moderation, right? If you look at the calorie count, this dish is not bad, even when it’s surreptitiously sprinkled with Julie Child’s Sautéed Mushrooms, and maybe even an extra slice or two of bacon. Feel free to go crazy with this recipe, but I suggest making more rather than less because it will go, and I mean fast. Enjoy!
4 ounces fresh baby spinach [30 calories]
1 package (~ 8-ounce weight) mushrooms, sliced [25 calories]
¼ small red onion, thinly sliced
5 pieces of bacon, preferably thick-sliced, finely diced [200 calories]
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey or sugar [20 calories]
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard [5 calories]
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil [120 calories]
2 tablespoons butter [200 calories]
Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a meal
Calories per serving: 70 (appetizer) or 140 (meal)
Calories per serving (decadent version): 150 (appetizer) or 300 (meal)
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the skillet is hot, add the diced bacon and cook until it has turned crispy and brown, about 3-4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the fried bacon from the skillet and transfer to a paper towel momentarily before scattering over the spinach. Discard all but 2-3 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the skillet. Warm the bacon fat over medium heat in the skillet, and then whisk in the red wine vinegar and the Dijon mustard.
Pour the salad dressing over the spinach, season with salt and pepper, toss, and serve hot.
1) If you don’t like raw onion…I personally love raw, red onion in my salads, but many people don’t. If you’d like to “mellow” out the flavor of the onion a bit, feel free to add the sliced onion to the vinaigrette during the last part of the cooking time, right after you’ve added the red wine vinegar and the Dijon mustard to the bacon fat. Cook for about 10-15 seconds to slightly soften the onion, and then pour the dressing over the prepared salad.
2) For the decadent version…If you haven’t tried Boeuf Bourguignon or Coq au Vin yet, you haven’t experienced the splendid deliciousness that is Sautéed Mushrooms. Because this salad calls for raw mushrooms, we decided to spice it up a bit and sauté them a la Julia Child to make this dish more decadent and delicious. Instead of adding the mushrooms raw to the spinach, heat a skillet over high heat, and once hot, add the oil and butter until it melts together and the butter foam subsides. Immediately add the mushrooms, but try not to crowd the pan; you may have to do this in two batches. Shake the pan occasionally for about 4-5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have absorbed most of the fat and turned brown. Remove the mushrooms from the pan with a slotted spoon, drain briefly on a paper towel, and then add to the spinach.
This recipe is an adaptation of Deb Perelman’s genius rendition over at Smitten Kitchen. We’re not fans of eggs, so we didn’t add the coins of hard-boiled egg as recommended, and we like a lot of dressing, so we increased the appropriate ingredients there. If you’d like the original, it can be found here
Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette.