Spinach Salad with Warm Maple Bacon Vinaigrette

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It was the day after Thanksgiving, and I was perusing cooking blogs.  I know, how could I be thinking of food after stuffing myself the day before?  Somebody’s gotta do it. 😉  At least the dish that caught my eye was not more pie…it was a salad.  A ridiculously stunning salad. Yes, the Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette on the Smitten Kitchen website stopped me dead in my tracks.  The photo made me want to grab a plate and serve myself.  You get the picture.  The only real question is, how could I have waited so long to make it?  I finally got around to it, and was it ever worth it.

While I’ve had the recipe pinned on Pinterest ever since I laid eyes on it, I did’t pull up the recipe when I was making it.  I pretty much remembered it since I’ve been having dreams about it ever since.  I’ve adapted my own version, Spinach Salad with Warm Maple Bacon Vinaigrette, with most of the same ingredients, but in different quantities.  I did something that I normally don’t do — I used bacon drippings in the dressing in place of olive oil.  It’s completely appropriate and necessary here.  It’s not a lot — just 2 tablespoons, so as long as you don’t eat all of it at once, you’ll be ok.  My not-so-secret ingredient in the vinaigrette is maple syrup…yum.  There’s something about maple and bacon together. This combo is not just for breakfast, it’s delicious in salad dressing too.  This, my friends, is a salad to look forward to.  It will tantalize your taste buds and leave you wanting more.  If your mouth isn’t watering yet, just make it and tell me you didn’t want to dive right in.  Good luck.

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Spinach Salad with Warm Maple Bacon Vinaigrette
 
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This Spinach Salad with Warm Maple Bacon Vinaigrette is a salad to look forward to. Fresh spinach and mushrooms are combined with cooked red onions, chopped egg, and salty bacon. The warm vinaigrette is poured over the salad to slightly wilt the spinach and mushrooms. Warning: It's hard to use restraint when eating this salad!
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
For the Salad:
  • 4 cups of loosely packed baby spinach
  • 3 large white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 slices of thick, center cut bacon, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion, sliced thinly into half moons
For the Dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
Prepare the salad:
  1. Place the spinach, mushrooms, and chopped egg into a large salad bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large frying pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until it's nice and crispy. Place on a plate lined with a paper towel to remove excess drippings. Add to the salad.
Prepare the dressing:
  1. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings from the pan. Add the red wine vinegar, maple syrup, and dijon mustard. Whisk over low heat for about 2 minutes until heated through. Add the red onions and cook in the dressing for about 30 seconds to wilt them slightly. Immediately pour the warm dressing over the salad. Toss, and serve immediately.
Notes
If you like your red onions raw, don't bother cooking them before adding them to the salad. The warm dressing may wilt them down just enough!

When hard boiling eggs, place the eggs in a pan and fill with cold water. Place a lid on top and bring to a boil over medium heat. Immediately remove from heat, and keep the lid on for 10 minutes for a perfectly hard boiled egg.