A Slightly Wilted, Very Tasty, Surprisingly Filling, Spinach Salad

I hadn’t intended to share this recipe yet but, over the weekend, my vegetarian friend and fellow Wrigley Field denizen, Cynthia, convinced me to write it up and post it now. So, my dear Cubs Fan, this one’s for you …

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I first saw this salad prepared a few weeks ago, just prior to Christmas, but my mind was too occupied with thoughts of the holiday dinners-to-come to give it any real consideration. I’ve always enjoyed a spinach salad, a trait Mom & I shared, but the thought of having a salad as a meal around the holidays is so not me. And then came the New Year’s Day porchetta (roasted pork).

Now, I thoroughly enjoyed that roast. It was everything I had hoped it would be and certainly lived up to my recollections of the porchette of my childhood. I, also, enjoyed the pork sandwiches and panini that followed but there came a point, much to my surprise, where the idea of another sandwich, porchetta or otherwise, was not the least bit enticing. Worse yet, and most unbelievably, I’d had my fill of pasta, too! One afternoon, I found myself walking around a grocery and nothing was the least bit appealing. You hear about this  happening to others but never in a million years do you think it will happen to you.

Dazed and confused, I pushed my cart passed the meat counter, beyond the seafood, through the dairy aisle, and into the produce section. What to do, what to do? That’s where it hit me. Spinach salad! As my anxiety waned, I began to remember the ingredients required. Luckily, I already had everything I needed at home, save the spinach. Moments later, with renewed vigor and a bag of baby spinach, I was out the door and on my way home. That evening, I dined on a spinach salad so good that I’ve prepared it twice again since that first meal. That’s right. Me. Eating salads for dinner! (Just how many Signs of the Apocalypse are there?)

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A Slightly Wilted, Very Tasty, Surprisingly Filling, Spinach Salad Recipe

serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, separated
  • 1/2 lb bacon cut into 1/2 inch strips (lardons)
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1/2 lb crimini mushrooms, sliced or quartered
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (water may be substituted)
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 bag (8 oz) pre-washed baby spinach
  • 6 tbsp balsamic vinegar, more or less to taste
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a sauté pan over med-high heat. Add bacon and sauté until cooked and crispy along the edges.
  2. Add the shallots and continue sautéing until translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes until soft.
  3. Use the chicken stock to deglaze the pan, then bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.
  4. Add all but 1 tbsp of the balsamic vinegar and stir. Taste the dressing and adjust, using more balsamic or olive oil, depending upon your preference. Remove from heat.
  5. In another, non-stick, skillet, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over med-low heat.
  6. Gently add each of the 4 eggs to the pan, being careful to keep the yolks whole. Season with salt & pepper.
  7. Fry the eggs until the whites are thoroughly cooked but the yolks remain soft.
  8. Dress the spinach with the warm dressing in a large bowl. Mix well to allow the spinach to wilt evenly.
  9. Apportion the salad across 4 plates. Place a fried egg atop each salad and serve.

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Notes

The ingredients can be easily adjusted to suit your tastes and/or the number of servings required. If you prefer your salad heavily wilted, dress the spinach with the warm dressing while the eggs are frying. If you prefer your spinach more firm, dress the spinach just prior to placing the eggs on top.

For you, Cynthia, and your fellow vegetarians: just skip the bacon, increase the olive oil to make up for the lack of bacon fat, and use water in place of the chicken stock. And, as always, Go Cubs!

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Inspired by Michael Symon

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86 thoughts on “A Slightly Wilted, Very Tasty, Surprisingly Filling, Spinach Salad

  1. Love spinach salads more than just about any other. Bacon is a very important element :) but a fried egg on top? Fascinating. Funny thing, DH and I were just talking the other day about how a fried egg on top has/is becoming part of many recipes.

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  2. John, shame on you for hesitating to post this!! Top a fried egg on anything and I’m in!! I love salads and could have them for lunch or dinner. This is healthy and delicious, warm and gooey good with the fried egg. AND, I adore Michael Symon! He’s my Cleveland buddy, chef and all around great down to earth guy! I make his hamburger with the fried egg on top quite often for my son. I’ll be picking up spinach at the market this week just to make this!!

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    • Sorry, Linda. I guess I was suffering post traumatic stress disorder, having realized that I had no appetite for sandwiches nor pasta. Clearly, I wasn’t thinking. I hope you like this one; I certainly did — and will again, especially this Summer when it’s too hot to cook.

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  3. Sign of the Apocalypse or no, this sure sounds good to me! Just bookmarked this in my recipes to try. I’ve been craving salads lately and I just love recipes that are a meal in one dish. :) I’m so glad you decided to go ahead and post this…Thanks!

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    • My pleasure, Betsy, and thank you! Adding the egg to this, really light, salad makes it a surprisingly more substantial meal. When I get the urge to have it, all I need to buy is the spinach and not 3 or 4 other items that I never have on hand. This works for me on so many levels.

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    • This is a good salad but the version you had, with the duck confit and duck egg, is in another league completely! That salad must have been incredible and if it was served to me in a local restaurant, I’d become one of their regulars, no doubt about it.

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    • You’re going to like this salad, Claire. Very easy to prepare and a great meal is the result. I hope you’re allowed back into the kitchen soon. You’re too good a cook to be “on restriction” of any kind. :)

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      • Aw thank you John, mostly I’m just plain missing the kitchen! Although I do have a crazy idea for tomorrow (which I’ll no doubt write up about) and I have absolutely no idea how well or badly it’s going to work out!

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    • Whew! That’s a relief, Sharyn. Bad enough people are going to blame it on the Mayans and their calendar. I don’t want this salad to be mentioned in that conversation, as well. :)

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  4. Eggs are my go-to, hurried weeknight dinner when the fridge is running bare. Usually that means fritatta at our house. I can very easily do with a big salad for dinner too, so long as its loaded with flavor. This is like the perfect storm though John – mushrooms spinach eggs shallots and Balsamic!! Beautiful and can’t wait to try.

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    • I, too, will turn to an egg dish if confronted with an empty fridge, Spree. I’ve seen other recipes for a wilted spinach salad but they seemed overly complicated. This one couldn’t be easier to fix and makes a very tasty meal. And, of course, you can add whatever you like — onion, croutons, etc — if you wish to make it a bit more substantial. I’m pretty satisfied with it the way it is.

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    • Thanks, Celi. It’s the bacon that got my attention. That’s a half-pound used! Add that delicious bacon fat to the runny egg yolk and it’s a winner in my book. I hope you guys like it as much as I do.

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    • Kathryn, you may be many delightful things but “twerp” certainly isn’t one of them. Your need for carbs is affecting your self-image. Go, as you wanted, to the kitchen and make yourself a cheese sandwich — while you wait for your spaghetti alla carbonara to finish cooking. You’ll feel better. Promise.

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  5. That’s a beautiful looking salad John and it’s a great time of year to be eating salads (here in Sydney of course). I’ve made a similar similar salad but it’s with hard boiled eggs. I think a soft runny egg would be much better. And I think you could use pancetta instead of bacon?

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    • Thank you! Yes, I, too, have had spinach salads with hard-boiled eggs and, for me, a fried egg is a great idea, especially with this dressing’s ingredients. I certainly would use pancetta with this salad. I like the smokiness that bacon brings but pancetta would definitely work, too.

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    • I’ve always liked spinach but, then again, Mom always cooked fresh spinach, never canned. This salad is super easy to make. Just have everything chopped and ready to go before you start the dressing. It really does go fast.

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  6. This would be a hit with 3 out of 4 of us in the house. Miss A has still not taken to salads, but we’ll get her there. I’m sure of it. She is, however, a Cubs fan. She asked Mike to take her to a game for her birthday this year. :)

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    • A Cubs fan in the making! Yay! Start ‘em when they’re young! You can always serve her portion on one of those Cubs kiddie plates. She can’t see the logo and Cubbie Bear unless she cleans her plate — just put a drop cloth under her chair. :)

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  7. Hmmm. Your salad photo is enticing and tasty looking for sure. Your description of how you came to make is a wonderful read. A winning salad for sure. The idea of your being dazed and confused and pushing past all the sections until produce was like a short film script to me. I could totally identify with the scene. Spinach is one of my favorites.

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    • Thank you, Ruth. I had a wonderful holiday season, filled with a number of incredible meals, but I really did hit my saturation point. I didn’t even know I had one! Remembering that salad was a stroke of luck and I’ve enjoyed it a few times since. If you try it, I’m sure you’ll like it, especially if you love spinach.

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  8. Well, I’ll have to use a bacon substitute (and bacon may be the only meat I actually miss!) but this is perfect! The egg is a huge surprise. I would make this often! I feel a certain loyalty to you, John, and as I’m easily persuaded by the enthusiasm of others….Go Cubs! (I may have dishonored someone in my own home, but I’ll fact check later)! Debra

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    • Thanks, Debra! I wish I knew more about the meat-substitute products available today. I’d definitely include them as suggestions for my vegetarian friends — although I wonder just how much they’d “need” the recommendations. The Cubs can always use another fan, or two, but I won’t let on that you’ve joined our ranks, especially considering your “home situation.” This will be out little secret — until the Cubs will win the Big One. I hope you can keep a secret for a very long time. :)

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    • You, Mandy, are most welcome! I’m sure you’re going to like this recipe. With your Summer underway, a light meal like this is a good one to have in your repertoire. I know I’ll be returning to it repeatedly this Summer. Have a great day!

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  9. Maybe is true what they say about 2012…
    I loved your story because I found myself in the same situation this Christmas in Panama, there’s a thing call too much turkey and ham ;)
    Your salad looks delicious. Normally I just sauté them with olive oil, pine nuts and raisins. But raw with the dressing, sounds like a great idea too.
    Have a nice day!

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    • You must have had it much “worse” than I, Giovanna. You combined a homecoming with the holidays. I bet everyone wanted to have dinners in your honor, not to mention the usual holiday traditional meals. Still, of all the “problems” to have, too much good food has to be one of the better ones to endure. :)

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  10. Thanks for reaffirming that we are all going to die later this year and reinforcing the idea in my head that I should drink a case of wine a day, so that won’t miss out on all the wine that I would have consumed over my entire life span. :-)

    Seriously though, I enjoy spinach greens and the egg on top sounds great.

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    • Glad to oblige. Now, if you could do us all a favor. Start writing 2 blog posts a day. The first, as soon as you get out of bed everyday before you crack open that day’s case of wine. The 2nd, sometime later that evening. It would be swell if you could figure out a way to broadcast a corresponding video with the 2nd posting. You just might knock the Kardashians out of the limelight.

      And it is a good recipe. Hope you give it a try.

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  11. Isn’t wandering around the grocery store hoping for inspiration just the worst? Now if one was wandering around, say, an outdoor market on a bright sunny day… that would be different. I’m impressed that all you needed was a little bag of spinach and voila! Look at that dinner. I would love this right now… I’ve been trying to reduce the caloric intake since Christmas! And I love a quick warm salad on a winter’s night!

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    • That is, for me, the worst part of Winter: no farmers markets to peruse. I miss my Saturday morning strolls through the produce. I’m, also, trying to cut back after a most filling holiday season. This spinach salad will play a big role in that. I hope you try it, Smidge. I think you’ll like it.

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  12. This would have been a perfect post for Christmas breakfast or New Year’s day breakfast. I make spinach omlets or poached eggs w/ spinach all the time. I’ll add mushrooms if I have it on hand, rare occasions I’ll add bacon (usually reserved for Sunday brunches).
    We actually had eggs for dinner the other night since I didn’t have any meat in the house, we love breakfast food for dinner and this would be perfect anytime of day!

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  13. What an amazing salad, John — the fried egg is wonderful, breaking the yolk it simply oozes out as a dressing on the salad. YUM. And the mushrooms. This is a winner! I’ve copied a similar salad with smoked salmon and a fried egg on top (and roast potatoes) and it’s also divine. I adore hot and cold salads, the heat just slightly wilting the greens. My very first experience of this type of salad was in France as we walked away down from Montmartre, the most amazingly simple salad, but so delicious!

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    • That’s it exactly, Eva. It is so amazingly simple yet so very delicious! I enjoy a good salad but they are usually more complicated than this. From start to finish, this one can be ready in 15 minutes, if that! This salad is going to be very popular around here!

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  14. Pingback: Shadyside in the Snow « Ruth E Hendricks Photography

  15. I LOVE spinach.. and any chance I can get to eat it I will. So I was so excited to come here and find this amazing spinach salad.. I just love it. I think I can eat this twice a week. Thanks for the recipe

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    • I share your love of spinach and this salad was a real find! I had planned to make it again for supper this evening but a snowstorm derailed my plans. I’m going for comfort food tonight — but I’ll have this salad in a day or 2, guaranteed!

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    • Yes, the egg totally takes this salad to another level. Some have suggested using poached eggs and, yes, they would work, too. EIther way, it’s all about the runny yolk, for me. I’d have more faith in the Mayan prediction if someone, anyone, could tell me one other prediction they made that came true. :)

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    • If, like me, you enjoy a wilted salad, than skipping the bacon, or finding a meat-free substitute, shouldn’t be a problem. I wish I knew of alternative products for bacon, Colline, but Im so ignorant when it comes to the choices available for today’s vegetarians. Things have really changed for the better!

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  16. I am constantly trying to convince myself that I like eggs. I have found that eating them with unexpected foods is the best way to sneak them into my diet. This is a must try salad. I adore mushrooms, bacon and spinach, so why not add those pesky eggs!?

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    • Welcome. Kristen! You certainly aren’t alone with your dislike of eggs. I know of others who don’t like them, too. I don’t know if this would make a difference but you could try poaching them instead of frying. Still, even without the egg, this is a good salad and I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment, Kristen.

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  17. I have been out of town for awhile and just catching up with your posts. I think we are are feeling like you at this time of the year and your salad fits right in with what we are all seeking. Lighter as in not so many rich dishes. Fresh as in trying to undo all those holiday dishes that we don’t eat the rest of the year. Yea to healthier eating. I know it won’t last long…but for now let’s undo a little of our holiday excesses.

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    • Welcome back, Karen! Yes, this salad was just what I needed after the holiday season. There was a lot of wining and dining, more so than usual, and I needed a break. And this certainly was one tasty break!

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    • The fried egg is what drew me to the salad in the first place. Some commenters have suggested using a poached in its place and I believe that, too, would work. As I mentioned before, it’s all about the runny yolk.

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    • I hope you enjoy this salad, Sawsan, as much as I do. It really is delicious. If you aren’t a fan of fried eggs, some have suggested poaching them, instead. It doesn’t really matter, for my tastes, just so long as the yolk remains runny so that it can combine with the dressing. Good luck!

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  18. Pingback: St. Patrick’s Day Green Recipe Round-Up | Smart Food and Fit

  19. John, love the story. It is wonderful when a recipe finds you within the supermarket.
    What a great idea with the fried egg, bacon and flavors. I am feeling salads right now, and definitely need to try this one! So different, yet delicious. To think I thought boiled eggs with spinach were a winner. This one is the best yet :)

    I do have one little secret, I really don’t cook much with mushrooms. Only for others. Long story!

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    • That fried egg, Judy, really makes this salad. The yolk adds a richness that takes this salad to another level completely. You’re aren;t alone regarding mushrooms. I’ve a couple friends who feel the same way. They’re a component to the salad but not main attraction. Drop ‘em if you don’t like ‘em. :)
      Thanks, Judy, for always being so encouraging and, this time, for reminding me about this recipe. I’m heading to a grocery in a little while and this salad will make a great lunch/dinner later in the week.

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