Sunday, January 16, 2005

Wilted Spinach Salad with Bacon

and Balsamic Vinaigrette

adapted from Cook's Illustrated

I recommend the organic prewashed baby spinach as conventional spinach is one of those vegetables that is generally very high in pesticides. If you choose to use bunched baby spinach instead, make sure to wash and dry the leaves well. I also recommend the "aged in wooden barrels" Balsamic Vinegar of Modena that is sold under the 365 Whole Foods Market brand. It is only $4.99 a bottle and quite possibly the best Balsamic Vinegar I've tasted. I made this salad for Roroc, and we both gobbled down 3 cups of fresh spinach each. It is superb!

Serves 4 a first course or 2 as a lunch course

5 ounces baby spinach (about 6 cups)
2-3 slices of bacon (about 2 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 small red onion , minced (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 teaspoon table salt (to taste)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon granulated sugar
tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Place spinach in large bowl. Fry bacon in small skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes; transfer with slotted spoon to paper towel–lined plate, leaving fat in skillet. Return skillet to medium heat and add oil, onion, salt, pepper, and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar; swirl to incorporate. Pour warm dressing over spinach and toss gently to wilt. Sprinkle bacon over spinach; serve immediately.

A note for Heidi and Joe and other bacon lovers...for more smoke, salt, and crunch, add one slice of bacon and eliminate the olive oil; however, please use caution as this adaption may not be suitable for all eaters.

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