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Simple Spinach Salad with Homemade Vinaigrette
This is by far my favorite salad. Every time I tell my kids I'm making it, they cheer! Not quite as much as they cheer for brownies, but hey, kids cheering for spinach salad is pretty awesome in my book. I've served this salad for several parties and when we've had family over for dinner. I've also taken it to dinner parties where I've been asked to bring something. I have never had leftovers, but I have seen people go to the empty bowl for seconds and look sad when they see they are too late. One time I forgot to add the cranberries and I still had people asking me for the recipe! It's so simple, I just had to share.
- 1 10oz bag spinach
- 6 strips bacon
- 1/2 cup toasted almonds, unsalted
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
Making the Salad
- Begin by perfuming your home with the scent of cooking bacon. If you want to make the neighbors jealous, open a window.
- While the bacon is cooking, chop the almonds into small pieces. No larger than a quarter of an inch. You can use an electric chopper if you prefer, but I like to chop mine manually. Every time I used the electric chopper I got quite a bit of almond powder in the bottom and several large chunks left on top. It is also obnoxiously loud, so I went back to using a knife.
- Next, wash (and dry) your spinach if you think it needs it. I usually get the kind that is pre-washed to save time. However, even with the pre-washed spinach, I like to spend a few minutes picking out the wilted pieces. It doesn't seem to matter how great looking the bag is at the store, when I get it home and get it open, there are always a couple of wilted slimy pieces in there. Since I don't want anyone to find one in their salad, I do a careful check and remove them.
- When the bacon is finished cooking, remove it from the pan and rest it on a paper towel to drain and cool. Once it is cool, chop in into little bits by cutting the strips lengthwise and then horizontally.
- In a large bowl, combine the spinach, bacon, almonds, and dried cranberries. Wait to add the dressing until you are just about to serve.
Making the Dressing
Combine equal parts of sugar, vinegar, and vegetable oil. Shake (or stir) vigorously. That's it!
About the Dressing
This homemade vinaigrette dressing is the easiest ever. I like to keep mine in one of those containers designed for mixing powdered drinks. It has a special insert that aids in mixing and a flip-top lid that pours easily. Go for the solid plastic ones and try to avoid the ones with metal. A metal shaker ball in a container with vinegar probably won't do very well for long, but my fully plastic one has held up for years.
You can scale the recipe up or down and it keeps well in the refrigerator. Aside from my homemade honey mustard dressing, this vinaigrette is the only kind of salad dressing my husband will eat. So, I make a bunch at a time and save it to use whenever we have salad.
When dressing the Simple Spinach Salad above, pour some on and then toss. Add more dressing a little at a time until all of the leaves look coated. Stop before it starts to puddle in the bottom of the bowl. Enjoy!