Popeye The Sailor Man

Yesterday I knew it was time to eat a salad. Too much candy, cookies, wintertime casseroles, and stews were makingme feel, well – puffy.  I’m not talking about a summery salad with tons of seasonal veggies, but ayummy main course salad that’s good year round. The inspiration for this particular dish came from my friend Dancey who keeps chickens and gave me a dozen fresh eggs that were almost too pretty to eat. So dinner was a spinach salad with warm bacon dressing and hard-boiled eggs. 

I have a great memory of the first time I was served a really fancy salad. My mom’s best friend, Jean, used to take me out to lunch for my birthday, but the year I turned twelve she took me to an elegant restaurant for my first lobster dinner. Jean was single and ever so glamorous. She worked as an editor, had a fabulous wardrobe, and always sported perfect make-up and chip free manicures.  I desperately wanted to impress her with my sophistication and worldliness, but any hope of that was dashed when the first course arrived. It was a salad in a chilled crystal bowl, a beautiful mix of spinach and lettuce. I had never seen spinach in a salad, my mother had more sense than to slap raw spinach down on a plate and serve it to my father. Any spinach we encountered came in a can with a familiar muscle man on it. I hated that stuff with a passion, but these beautiful, emerald green leaves in front of me were a whole new game. Still, the best part was yet to come. A man in a white coat and chef’s hat wheeled over a silver cart loaded toppings and dressings for the salad. He proceeded to decorate mine with crumbled bacon, chopped hard-boiled eggs, and little toast croutons, prompting me to shriek, “Look Jean, it’s a breakfast salad!” Everyone was charmed and I was only briefly mortified, then totally delighted by the whole process. Yes, the lobster was fabulous, starting a life long obsession, but I’ll never forget the thrill of that salad.  

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I made my own fabulous salad for my family last night. It was coated with a warm dressing spiked with a little maple syrup to really play up the breakfast idea. Yum. Today we’ll probably be back to the four food groups from the movie Elf, (hey, isn’t maple syrup one of those?) but last night we enjoyed a beautiful salad for dinner. 

Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

Ingredients

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8 oz bag young spinach                    

2 eggs

6 slices bacon

3 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp each salt and pepper

Choice of additional toppings: (I have to make each one separately: Sammy, no onion or mushrooms, Richard no egg or mushrooms, Sallie, all the stuff. Remember to let your grocery salad bar be your friend for salad toppings!)

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sliced mushrooms

sliced avocado

red onion

dried cranberries

orange slices

blue cheese

Directions

Put eggs in a small saucepan in cold water to cover by an inch, and bring to a boil. Put the lid on the pan; remove from heat, and let sit for 15 minutes. Run eggs under cold water and peel.

Place the spinach in a large bowl or divide between individual serving plates.

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium high heat. Remove to drain on a paper towel, and crumble for salad. Keep 3 Tbsp of bacon drippings in the skillet.

Over medium heat add vinegar, mustard, syrup and salt and pepper to the skillet with the bacon drippings and whisk together.

Pour over spinach, toss and top as desired.

© Deer One Publishing 2017