Does the world really need another salad recipe? Probably not. In fact, I'd completely forgotten about it. I made the salad after a baking binge. Feather light biscuits. Cornbread with sour cream. Two key lime pies disappeared in a flash, as did a pecan cake. After so much indulgence, I craved something fresh and somewhat healthy.
Spinach Salad with Berries and a Warm Pancetta Dressing
A salad needn't be mundane. Imagine that you are a wizard, and you've been summoned to a hilltop castle, a place where sunlight pours through the narrow kitchen windows. The lady of the castle has overindulged and cannot fit into her bodice. But you know a healthy cure. You stand next to a worn farmhouse table and raise your hands, ready for the alchemy to begin. You toss in a handful of spinach, then add crispy bits of pancetta, a splash of red wine vinegar, and the tempered wildness of shallots. Chopped egg whites lend a smooth, quiet note. Smile when the plump, lady-like berries patter against the green leaves. For sass, throw in a fistful of herbs. Summon a masculine attitude with a grind of the pepper mill and a splash of Tabasco.
Imagine the tines of your fork spearing through green leaves,berries, pancetta; a shimmering drop of vinaigrette falls, hits a raspberry, and glides down. On your fork is the taste of summer. Each bite is smooth and rough, warm and cool, sweet and savory: the crunch of toasted walnuts, the salty comfort of pancetta, a shiver of sweetness, a flash of heat.
1 bunch fresh spinach
3 boiled eggs
3 Tablespoon finely chopped shallots
oven toasted walnuts
fresh herbs, chopped (flat-leaf parsley and chives)
1 6 oz package pancetta
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Tabasco -- three drops (optional)
Sea salt, freshly ground pepper
Boil the eggs. Peel and remove yolks (reserve for another recipe). Chop whites, then set aside.
Wash and pick over the spinach (remove leggy stems), then dry in a paper-towel lined colander. Chop the herbs and shallots; set aside.
Over a medium flame, cook pancetta in a frying pan until brown and crispy. Remove the cooked bits and leave drippings in the pan. Reduce heat to medium low flame. Add shallots and sautee until they start to turn translucent. Add sugar and wine. Whisk until sugar dissolves and dressing thickens. Season with Tabasco (if desired), salt, and pepper. Remove pan from flame and set aside.
(Note: Tastebuds vary. Adjust the ingredients until the dressing tastes just right to you--more sugar, shallots, vinegar, etc.)
Find a large bowl and prepare the salad--drop in a bunch of spinach, followed by berries and walnuts. Toss gently. Add berries, pancetta, herbs, and egg whites. Spoon the dressing over the salad.
Home Sweet Home,
Sundays Down Under