I love the whole concept of spinach salad with bacon dressing. It strikes just the right balance of healthy and splurge-worthy. Loaded up with vitamin-packed spinach, mushrooms, and red onion, and some protein-righ eggs, this salad makes for a healthy lunch option. Add in some warm, rich dressing and big crumbles of bacon and you have a lunch option that you actually want to eat. Win-win.
Of course you’ve all had a similar spinach salad before; I know I have. But so often, it’s executed, well… poorly. Sometimes the dressing overwhelms the ingredients, coating every morsel and turning everything greasy. Otherwise, the dressing is in the right proportion, but is so sweet that it overpowers everything else. Or, worst of all, the salad is mostly just spinach and not much else. How boring. I like this version because the salad is made up of lots of tasty things, without loading down the spinach and becoming a heavy, soggy mess. The little slivers of red onion offer a sharp bite against a barely-sweet, dijon-laced dressing. The dressing is decidedly bacon-y, but not overwhelmingly greasy; it actually manages to taste pretty light and bright. I love the creamy hard-boiled eggs against the acidity of the rest of the salad, and obviously the bacon crumbles are a non-negotiable.
Nothing about this salad is over-complicated, so it works nicely as a dinner salad with a simple meal. But I wouldn’t complain about eating this as the main attraction, either. This is the kind of meal I crave mid-January, when I’m aching for bright, fresh greens, but also have a primal urge for comfort foods. I don’t know of any other salad that fulfills both of those appetites as well as this one.
Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing
inspired by, and adapted from A Family Feast
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced thinly
½ pound bacon
8 oz fresh baby spinach, washed and dried
6 oz button mushrooms, sliced very thin
1 small red onion (half finely chopped and half thinly sliced, divided)
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons stone-ground Dijon mustard
¼ cup water
In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove to paper towels and crumble or rough chop and set aside. Reserve two tablespoons of the bacon fat and discard the rest.
Add the chopped onion to the hot bacon fat and sauté over medium heat until the onion is tender and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the vinegar, deglazing the pan, and scraping all the browned bacon-y bits off the bottom.
Then add the sugar, mustard, and water and stir to combine. Simmer on low, stirring, until the sugar is completely dissolved.
In large bowl, combine all the remaining salad ingredients (the spinach, mushrooms, sliced red onion, crumbled bacon, and eggs), or split up everything between individual plates or bowls. Carefully spoon the hot dressing over the top, toss well, and serve immediately.