I just realized this is the first salad I have posted. Well, you are in luck because it’s one of my favorites. Maybe because it has bacon and sauteed mushrooms and onion? Nah, it’s definitely the garlic chips.
Bet you have never heard of garlic chips. You are in for a treat! Imagine taking these thin strips of fresh bitter garlic and frying them to create a crisp tangy garlic chip? Yep now I have your attention. This salad will change your entire thought process of salad. Most obviously, it’s warm and most salads are chilled. But I think it’s the first salad I want to just keep eating. Like every day.
I am actually not a fan of salad. Usually the homemade ones are not really crispy, well at least not by the time it’s lunchtime at work. I love the thought of mixed spring greens but they usually stick to the bowl and get soggy in the dressing. My personal solution for my salad phobia is to buy a salad or less expensively (and more tasty), I just tend to make sauteed spinach all the time!
This dish is like combination of sauteed spinach and salad since the hot dressing has a tendency to start wilting the spinach a bit. It becomes almost a side dish in fact. Not to mention it’s fancy looking, but you will spend maybe only five minutes making it. Don’t you like those kind of dishes? I do because then I can put them together for those last minute guests and they are very impressed. In fact, throw in the Hidden Garlic Pot Roast along with the Roasted Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes and you will be the hero!
I remember one summer several years ago, I randomly made this salad for dinner one night. It was so good, I made it again the next night. Then several times that summer. I never used a recipe but just kept using different things I had on hand and playing with the amounts in the dressing. I have had warm bacon spinach salad before in a restaurant or two, but it was very sweet. Overly sweet so that I don’t order them and generally stick with a crispy caesar.
Since I had made this years ago, I had to search my brain to figure out what I put in the dressing to begin with. Thankfully I have amazing resources I turn to for ideas and help when I need it. I have known my friend Kristen since she was a young girl and – to my excitement – found her calling in the culinary arts. I love being able to bounce ideas off her as well as learn some new recipe ideas. She was the brain child behind reminding me what the heck goes into this dressing. Thank you for saving me!
The base is obviously fresh spinach. I love baby spinach because the leaves are a lot more tender than large mature spinach leaves. They are a heck of a lot easier to eat too. The dressing itself is quite simple to make. Once you make the garlic chips, you add mushrooms and onions to the oil and saute until soft. Adding flavor from balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, honey and salt and pepper mixes with bacon crumbles to pour hot over the spinach. Garnish with those amazing garlic chips. They are the best kind of croutons you can ask for.
- 4 strips bacon
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin
- 6 large mushrooms, sliced
- ½ red onion, peeled and sliced into half moons
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Salt & pepper
- Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat turning every few minutes until crispy. Drain on paper towels, then chop. Set aside.
- Mix together the balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, honey and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
- In a separate skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil until hot. Add the garlic slices. Stir around in the oil so they are one layer and brown evenly. Once they are light brown – about 2-3 minutes – remove them to a paper towel to drain.
- Add the mushrooms and onions to the hot oil and saute for 5-6 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the vinegar mixture and stir until warm. Mix in the bacon and turn off the heat. Serve poured over a bed of fresh spinach. Sprinkle the garlic chips on top.