I’m about to convince you that this salad is dessert.
I mean, I guess it could totally be dinner. But do you see the words up there? KIL-LER. Not just because it’s delicious but it’s kind of… loaded with wonderful things that your heart may not love.
Please sit back while I serve you a lovely plate of cholesterol. TOTALLY WORTH IT.
Here’s the deal. This was Mother Lovett’s favorite salad of all time. Okay – minus the avocado (I don’t know if she ever got into it) – and maybe add a few mushrooms. But this was HER salad. It was the salad that she’d order every single time it was on the menu and also one that she’d ask us to pick up for her as a treat.
And you know it’s not even about the salad. This post, these photos? They have nothing to do with this pile of spinach that I threw cheese and egg and avocado on top of. Oh no.
It’s allllll about the dressing.
The bad news is that hot bacon dressing is quite possibly one of the least photogenic foods in the universe, right up there with meatloaf, gravy and all that jazz.
Apparently all things that taste fabulous look like garbage to the human eye.
It’s also one of my mom’s favorite salads, if not her very favorite. If it’s on the menu, sometimes she will order a different salad and request the hot bacon dressing. And if I’m being real, even though I might have said back in the day that the first salad I learned to love was a Caesar, THIS was most likely the first salad I ever forked into my mouth and actually enjoyed. It’s ridiculously decadent and wonderful.
sidebar: if you don’t have a jar of bacon grease in your fridge, change that now. It can be used for all the things. I even had a weak moment on Friday when I wondered if it could be used in brownies. Fear not. I did not go there.
While this isn’t a salad you can eat every day or, heck, even every week, it’s definitely one of those salads that can double as comfort food and impress friends at the same time. You can add whatever you like – and remove some of the heart attack worthy elements so you feel better about your life and don’t mind eating this salad on Monday night. I’m thinking honey roasted chicken, avocado, cherry tomatoes and the dressing. Maybe even some roasted garlic cloves on top. See! We can make this doable.
The key though… is that the dressing is WARM – just as the title suggests, so keep it hot until serving. I actually love when the eggs are semi freshly boiled as well and still a little warm (or better yet – do soft boiled eggs! We can be BFFs for life.), so you have cold spinach, hot bacon and warm dressing. It’s a freaking hug on a plate.
You look like you need a hug.
Killer Spinach Salads with Hot Bacon Dressing
Yield: serves 2, is easily multiplied
Total Time: 30 minutes
6 slices thick-cut bacon
8 cups of fresh baby spinach (I don't mind stems, if you do, remove them)
2 ounces gorgonzola cheese
1/2 avocado, thinly sliced
hot bacon dressing
1/4 cup bacon fat
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons golden balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar!)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 slices bacon, crumbled
I like to begin by boiling the eggs so they are finished by the time the dressing is ready. I do that by adding the eggs to cold water, heating them over medium heat and gradually increasing it to high heat. Once boiling, I boil the eggs for 2 minutes, then I remove them from the heat, cover the pot and let it sit for 10 minutes. I then run the eggs under cold water for a few minutes and let them soak in the cold water until ready to peel.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add bacon. I think bacon is best when cooked over medium-low heat, as it crisps up evenly. Cook the bacon until all the fat is rendered and then turn off the heat. Place the bacon on a paper towel to slightly drain and cool. Gently pour the bacon fat into a bowl or cup.
To assemble the salads, pile your spinach on a plate and cover with the sliced hard boiled eggs, avocado and gorgonzola. Crumble on two slices of bacon and season with a bit of pepper if you'd like. I find that this salad doesn't need a lot of salt since the components are so salty.
hot bacon dressing
Add the bacon grease, , minced garlic, vinegar, sugar and mustard to a saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the dressing slightly emulsifies. Season with the salt and pepper. Before serving, add in the crumbled bacon. You can keep this over low heat while stirring occasionally until ready to serve. I suggest reheating it in a saucepan like so. This is the combo I've come to love over the years, but you can experiment with different vinegars, more bacon fat and other spices too!
[dressing adapted from alton brown]
pretty much to die for.