This 1980s classic gets an update in the dressing and the plating!
Spinach salad with that sweet and tangy, warm bacon vinaigrette flecked with sliced button mushrooms, topped with hardboiled eggs and red onions is a timeless classic. It hasn't been seen in many years, probably because bacon used to get a bad rap and this salad was overplayed for a while. It's time to bring it back, and bring it back better than ever! This recipe features three major updates to make it taste better, look better, and be better for you. Maple syrup replaces the sugar in the dressing, which not only is healthier but adds a complementary depth of flavor with the bacon drippings. Hard boiled eggs can be served sliced crosswise, quartered lengthwise, or chopped. The red onion soaks briefly in boiling water to remove the sharpness and acidity without losing any of the flavor. This recipe is sure to become your new go-to for this all-time favorite!
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; rimmed sheet pans; aluminum foil; tea kettle or small saucepan; strainer; measuring spoons; dry and wet measuring cups; small mixing bowls; whisk; large mixing bowl; tongs
4 slices bacon
4 large eggs, hardboiled and peeled
½ red onion, thinly sliced crosswise into rings 6 button mushrooms, thinly sliced with trimmed stems
1 pound baby spinach (10-12 cups)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ cup bacon fat
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup maple syrup
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with aluminum foil. Place the bacon on the lined sheet pan. Bake until cooked and crisped, about 20 minutes, turning the bacon halfway through the cooking process. Remove the bacon to paper towels to drain and set aside. Once drained, chop into a small dice. Pour the warm bacon drippings in a heatproof/glass bowl or wet measuring cup. Set aside.
2. While the bacon is cooking, prepare the onions. Place the onion rings in a heatproof bowl and cover by 1 inch with boiling water. Alternatively, boil 2 cups of water in a small saucepan; once boiling, remove from the heat and add the onion rings to the pan. Let the onion rings steep in the boiled water for 1 minute. Strain and set aside the onion rings.
3. Now prepare the hardboiled eggs. Slice crosswise, quarter lengthwise, or finely chop. Set aside.
ILOC tip: if chopped egg is desired, use a small mesh strainer to "chop" the egg white and egg yolk separately, which will result in a fine and even crumb. It's all about technique, not torture!
4. To prepare the vinaigrette. combine the bacon drippings, olive oil, maple syrup, and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl using a whisk. Then add some kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
ILOC tip: if the bacon yields more or less than ¼ cup of drippings, adjust accordingly with the olive oil. In other words, there should be a total of ½ cup of fat to make this dressing. If the bacon fat congeals, warm it again until it becomes liquid.
5. In a large bowl, combine the baby spinach, sliced mushrooms, and chopped bacon. Drizzle with up to half the vinaigrette and toss well to coat.
6. Divide the salad among four plates, then divide the egg among four plates along with the onion rings. Sprinkle with additional kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. If desired, drizzle with additional vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.