Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Baby Spinach Salad with Warm Dressing

 It was very warm last Sunday in my neighborhood. The nearby farmers market was full of fresh green vegetables... so many that I was tempted to buy all of them, and almost did. I bought a beautiful bagful of spinach that was only five bucks, plus some Thai basil, baby broccoli, Chinese spinach, spring scallions, radishes, peas, beets.... I think I have a problem! Anyway, I made this spinach salad for lunch as soon as I came back home. Tomatoes are not  in season yet, so I used dried cranberries. Also I added some sliced kumquats after I took the photographs. It was so good!

Baby  Spinach Salad with Warm Dressing – Insalata di Spinaci
4 servings

1 bag (12 ounces) cleaned baby spinach
1 small red onion, finely sliced
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (4-5 ounces)
5- 6 ounces fine smoked bacon (e.g., applewood-smoked), sliced into about ¼ inch pieces
½ cup walnuts, lightly roasted and roughly chopped
½ cup dried cranberries
4-5 ounces dry-aged Ricotta cheese (Ricotta Salata), or Feta cheese if you prefer.

Mustard vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or honey mustard
1 clove of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons of red wine or raspberry vinegar
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
    Freshly grated black pepper

·         Cook the bacon in a small skillet over low-medium heat about 4-5 minutes or until crisp. Drain the fat and transfer bacon to small plate. Set aside.

·          In a small saucepan, mix together the mustard, garlic and vinegar. Add olive oil and black pepper and whisk briefly. Warm up the dressing over low heat. Set aside and keep warm.

·          In a large mixing bowl, toss together the spinach, onion, mushrooms, bacon, walnuts and cranberries. Add the dressing and toss all ingredients together. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. Transfer to serving bowl or divide onto individual plates. Shave the ricotta cheese using a vegetable peeler and sprinkle on top of the salad as garnish.

 Note: In summer, you may use cherry tomatoes instead of dried cranberries.

This is Chinese spinach, which I didn't know until recently. You can eat it raw, but it is great in a stir-fry, or in noodles or soup.....

Produce from the Menlo Park Farmers Market, Sunday April 22, 2012

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