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
- 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
- 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.
- Add the shallots and continue sautéing until translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes until soft.
- Use the chicken stock to deglaze the pan, then bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.
- 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.
- In another, non-stick, skillet, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over med-low heat.
- Gently add each of the 4 eggs to the pan, being careful to keep the yolks whole. Season with salt & pepper.
- Fry the eggs until the whites are thoroughly cooked but the yolks remain soft.
- Dress the spinach with the warm dressing in a large bowl. Mix well to allow the spinach to wilt evenly.
- Apportion the salad across 4 plates. Place a fried egg atop each salad and serve.
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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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