Wilted Spinach Salad w/ Balsamic Caramelized Red Onions

March 11, 2010

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: This is a take on that 70's classic: Wilted Spinach Salad -- which to me was a childhood favorite. The original was made with bacon, the onions sauteed in bacon grease and the whole mixture poured, hot and sizzling over the unsuspecting spinach. I have lightened it up a bit by removing the bacon and sauteing red onions in olive oil, then pouring that over the spinach. You could add bacon or pancetta to this as well and I'm sure it would be delicious, and a fried or poached egg over top wouldn't be bad either!coffeefoodwrite

Food52 Review: I tested coffeefoodwritergirl's Wilted Spinach Salad with Balsamic Caramelized Onions. It's a really simple dish with few components, but I really loved how it all came together -- the hit of lemon at the end was a really nice touch. In a word, yum. - lastnightsdinnerThe Editors

Serves: 4-6


  • 1 small package organic baby spinach
  • 1 large red onion – sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons e.v. olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • extra olive oil for drizzling
  • juice of ½ small lemon (a little over a tablespoon)
In This Recipe


  1. Wash and dry spinach. Place in large bowl.
  2. Sauté onions w/ a ¼ teaspoon salt in olive oil until translucent and beginning to caramelize. Add balsamic vinegar and continue to cook until caramelized completely and a nice light toast color.
  3. While still hot, pour the onions with the oil over the spinach, add the additional ¼ teaspoon salt and the ¼ teaspoon pepper. Drizzle with lemon. Add more olive oil if needed. Toss completely and serve while still warm...

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Reviews (13) Questions (0)

13 Reviews

Emily D. May 25, 2018
This is delicious. I used bacon fat to saute the onions and used half lemon balsamic vinegar and half fig balsamic. I also added chopped cherry tomatoes and toasted walnuts. What a good way to prepare my home grown spinach.
Author Comment
coffeefoodwrite May 28, 2018
Sounds delicious - especially the home grown spinach!
Tad July 31, 2016
Great recipe, thank you. I added 2 (or so) tablespoons of honey to the dressing, more vinegar maybe extra lemon and tossed fried bacon bits and cherry tomatoes into it (I apologize to the vegetarians among you). As a result I created a delicious, warm and filling dish which can compete with any steak and potatoes dinner. I think the idea to use bacon and cherry tomatoes came from another recipe somewhere on the site.
Author Comment
coffeefoodwrite August 1, 2016
Sounds delicious!<br />
Jason K. November 19, 2014
I want to make this for a work Thanksgiving potluck, any thoughts/ideas on the best way to prepare this ahead so it closely resembles the fresh preparation?
Author Comment
coffeefoodwrite November 19, 2014
Hi Jason, I'd prepare and sauté the onions ahead of time as directed, take it in a microwaveable container and heat them up that way just before tossing w/ cleaned spinach and other ingredients. Hope this helps!
Sharon F. October 11, 2014
We had some goat cheese in the refrigerator, so we added some (the amount that looked right for the amount of spinach we had) at the end and it made it creamy and yummy. I will definitely make this recipe again.
Author Comment
coffeefoodwrite October 13, 2014
sounds delicious!
howcool January 28, 2014
I had some spinach that was slightly past salad-worthy, so it went into the pan, where I tossed it with all the other ingredients to make it a warm, more-wilted-than-salad side dish... excellent! I agree that it's the squeeze of lemon juice that elevates this dish to the point where I want to comment on it. Leftovers were also great a few hours later, slightly warm, piled onto a buttermilk scone and topped with cheddar cheese. ;-P
Author Comment
coffeefoodwrite January 28, 2014
Yum! Sounds great on the scone….
J3_Dog January 23, 2012
I see so many variations of Balsamic Vinegar and also EVOO. Can someone please tell me some good brands for cooking. I'm into taste not frugality, and although I do not want to spend a fortune, I do not think it's wise to skimp on these two items... Thanks
monkeymom March 12, 2010
Beautiful photo. Looks delicious!
Author Comment
coffeefoodwrite March 13, 2010
Thank you, monkeymom!