Spinach Salad - With Classic Bacon Vinaigrette and Hardboiled Egg
By far the number one green vegetable in my kitchen is spinach. I work it into all kinds of things, but I always have a bag or box of baby spinach somewhere. And of all things to do with it, I love spinach salads. Crunchy, but tender, and with only the slightest bitter bite, even my children will eat it up, and I love the dark green goodness disappearing into their little bodies. I imagine I can see them growing every time I serve it.
My first encounters with it were as a spinach salad with a bacon vinaigrette, and although I almost never make it this way anymore - bacon vinaigrette being what it is - on occasion I break it out. It's such an incredible mix of flavors - the bright green spinach, the creamy eggs, the salty bacon, the zip of red onion, and the luscious tang of the vinaigrette itself are just amazing. I try to set my fork to have a little of everything in each bite. This was also the very first 'grown up' food I made for my first dinner party with my sister years ago when we entertained some friends of our father. So I love this one.
If you want to cut the calories back to the normal range, simply replace the vinaigrette with a red wine vinegar and olive oil version. The mouth feel is different, but still delicious. Try the one outlined in Steak Salad with Spinach, Bleu Cheese and Red Wine Vinaigrette. Use fewer eggs, and try a whole wheat crouton instead. Or, treat yourself the real classic version and go to Heaven for a few minutes.
1 bag of baby spinach, washed and dried
8 strips bacon, diced
1/4 red onion, sliced very thinly
2 hard boiled eggs (I use 10 minute eggs), sliced into eighths
2-4 Tbl balsamic vinegar
1-2 Tbl Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
- In a large skillet, render the bacon until very crispy over medium low heat. Drain well on paper towels and set aside and allow to cool.
- Meanwhile on a large platter or salad bowl, layer the spinach and red onion. Top with egg slices.
- In the skillet, reserve about 1/3 cup of the bacon grease. Return skillet to medium low heat. Add the vinegar and whisk well. Add half the Dijon mustard. Taste - this is critical. There is a huge difference in the sweetness of brands of balsamic vinegar, and in the saltiness of brands of bacon. You may need as much as 1/3 cup of the vinegar. I've made this with half and half, and I've made it with as little as 2 Tbl - all because of different brands. Make sure the dressing is well whisked, and season for salt and pepper. You'll need pepper for sure, but because of the bacon you may need no salt at all. Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- To serve, sprinkle the cooled bacon on top of the salad. Drizzle the warm dressing over the salad and sprinkle with several cranks of freshly cracked black pepper. Serve immediately, since the warmth of the dressing will cause the spinach to begin to wilt.