Sunday, September 5, 2010

My Favorite Spinach Salad (5 Ingredients) Or the Real Version from Lila

One of my dearest friends, Lila Didenko, made this for me one night at her apartment when she first moved up to Chicago. I have never forgotten it. I am not a big fan of sweet salads—especially ones that have sugar in the dressing, so the more savory, the better for me. I even check my store-bought salad dressings for sugar or high fructose corn syrup…I know, anal.

We used turkey bacon and once we made it with store-bought Italian dressing—which was still delicious if you are in a hurry. Here is the original recipe (from Gourmet Magazine, 2001). Thanks Lila!

Serves 6

For dressing:

3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste

For Salad:

1 (10-oz) bag baby spinach
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 lb sliced bacon (turkey)
3/4 cup pecans
Approx. 1 cup grape tomatoes (Lila’s touch & it stuck!)

Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp, then transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain. Reserve 3 tablespoons fat from skillet, discarding remainder (I am not sure you’ll get this much with the use of turkey bacon!!!). Crumble bacon.

Toast pecans in 2 teaspoons olive oil in skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until 1 shade darker, then transfer to paper towels to drain. Season nuts with salt and pepper and coarsely chop.

Heat reserved fat in a saucepan over moderately low heat until just warm. Remove pan from heat, then whisk in vinegar and remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil until emulsified. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Toss bacon, spinach, cheese, and half of nuts with enough dressing to coat. Sprinkle salad with remaining nuts.

However, I cheated and below is how I’ve made it a few times (and mainly because I wanted to cut some fat without pecans and bacon)—either way, this is good too & really my favorite spinach salad. If you want to make a meal out of it, go ahead and add the pecans and turkey bacon—get your protein in and serve with some crusty bread.

Store bought light Italian Dressing, (warmed optionally)
1 (10-oz) bag baby spinach
Approx. 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
5-6 baby portabella mushrooms rinsed, dried & sliced
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Gently toss ingredients together and add the crumbed goat cheese on top.

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