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Author Notes: My boyfriend and I love bacon-wrapped dates, but I admit they do not make a particularly balanced dinner on their own. Plus, I'm a strong believer in eating something green with dinner every night. So I came up with this warm spinach salad variation--the bacon and dates are there, with creamy goat cheese, and an orange and sherry vinegar-laced dressing that pulls it all together. —atxdori
For the salad
- 1 bunch good curly spinach leaves, cleaned and dried
- 2 ounces fresh goat cheese
- 4 pieces thick-cut bacon
- 2 handfuls medjool dates, pits removed and roughly chopped
For the dressing
- 2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed orange juice (from 1/2 of an orange)
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cut the bacon into bite-size pieces or lardons and fry in a heavy-bottomed small pan. When crispy, remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Turn off heat but reserve 2 tablespoons of rendered fat in the pan.
- In a small bowl, mix together sherry vinegar, mustard, honey, orange juice and orange zest.
- Over medium-low heat, add olive oil to the pan with the bacon fat. Re-warm briefly, then add vinegar and orange mixture to the pan.
- Simmer dressing gently while whisking, until dressing is warm, slightly thickened and emulsified. Salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large bowl, pour dressing over spinach and toss. It should wilt only slightly if you have good hearty spinach. The bagged stuff tends to wilt too much.
- Arrange spinach on plates. Top with big crumbles of fresh goat cheese, crispy bacon, chopped dates and a few grinds of pepper.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Dark, Leafy Greens