Does anyone remember eating warm spinach and bacon salad? I think the first time I tried it was at my aunt's house when I was in junior high. There was something fascinating about the sweet and tangy taste of it…and the bacon? Right.
I'd love to take credit for this recipe which is a lovely, more elegant version, but I can't. It's one of Susan Branch's recipes from her Christmas from the Heart of the Home book. If you aren't familiar with her, you're really missing something wonderful. I love browsing through her site and leafing through her books which are so much more than just cookbooks. They're like a trip to a special place where life is slow and pleasant, and creativity abounds. Such an amazing woman!
I like to make this salad at this time of year, because of the pomegranates, of course. And recently, I learned a new way to peel them, which makes me very happy considering I won't have to tolerate a red stain on my cutting board for a week or more.
Warm Spinach & Bacon Salad with Pomegranate
1 container of fresh baby spinach leaves
seeds of 1 pomegranate
1 c. crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 avocado, cubed
1/2 c. pecans, toasted
3 slices bacon
1/4 brown sugar
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
To prepare the pomegranate, fill a large bowl or kettle with water. Score the skin of the pomegranate and submerge it. Pull it gently apart, then push seeds from the membrane. The peelings and membrane will float, the juice dissolve without coloring your fingers, and the seeds will sink to the bottom. Discard the floating peel when you're finished, and pour the water through a strainer. Reserve seeds.
Fry bacon until crisp and break into pieces after it's cooled. Pour off all but 1 T. of fat off and set skillet aside.
In a large serving bowl, add spinach, mushrooms, avocados, nuts, and pomegranate seeds.
Place the skillet with the bacon fat back over medium heat and add the olive oil, sugar, and vinegar. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is warmed through. Pour over the spinach mixture, sprinkle on bacon and season. Toss and serve.
- I can't say enough about the flavors in this. The creamy avocado with the crunch of bacon and then there's the vinegar and sugar. Amazing!
- It's good with pancetta, too, but you won't have that 1T of bacon fat that adds so much to the taste of this.
- The salad is still good without the pomegranate, just not as pretty. Outside of not being able to get pomegranates, I can imagine that some may not like the seeds. I think their crunch is wonderful.
- When I make warm spinach salad, it's usually with sauteed mushrooms and onions, so the raw mushrooms in this is a nice change.
- It's easy to prepare everything ahead of time until you need to make the dressing. That takes only a couple of minutes, and then you'll be able to serve either with the bowl at the table…
…or toss and serve on individual salad plates.