What says spring like spinach? Doesn't it make you think of green hills and lambs frolicking? No? Well, even if it doesn't, I love spinach. It is such a versatile dish, good for you and very low in calories. After all, remember ol' Popeye? Where would he have been without his canned spinach? I am not so much a fan of cannned, but I love fresh, green, leafy spinach in salads, as a filling for fish or chicken or in a pesto with fresh herbs. Here is a recipe I made for dinner last night. It's an old one, that I got from my grandmother, who was a wonderful cook. I have lightened it up a little, cutting down on the bacon fat, streamlining some other things, adding some ingredients, but retaining all of the flavor of the original. Enjoy!
Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing
4 slices bacon, slowly cooked in a frying pan until crispy
1 med. red onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
2 T. olive oil
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. cider vinegar
10 strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 hard boiled eggs
2 T. bleu cheese crumbles or goat cheese crumbles
1 pkg. (bag or clear plastic box) triple washed baby spinach
Salt and pepper
Begin by cooking your bacon slowly to extract all of the bacon fat. Remove the rashers and save the fat. Add the sliced red onion and garlic to the pan, along with the 2 T. olive oil. Saute this while you prepare the rest of the salad. Sort the spinach, removing any longish stems or browned pieces and put it in a shallow, heat tolerant bowl (i.e. not plastic). Chop the eggs and scatter them over the spinach. Crumble your bacon and add that, too. At this point, the onions and garlic should be softened. Stir in the sugar and continue to cook a little longer, over medium heat to slightly carmelize the onions and garlic mixture. Pour this over the spinach in the bowl, add the strawberries and cheese, and toss the salad to mix thoroughly. Pour the vinegar over all of this, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and mix again. Voila, fresh tasty spinach salad. Easily serves 6 as a generous side salad, or 4 great big main dish salads.
This salad is very versatile and forgiving. If you don't have or can't get strawberries, use a chopped apple (we prefer Granny Smith) or a small can of drained mandarin oranges. Don't like fruit in your salad? I originally made this with sliced white button mushrooms. Wine vinegar will work in place of cider, or even balsamic, but it will be a little different if you use the balsamic.