If you’re old enough, you’ve probably had this salad, Classic Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing, at least if you live in the States. It was everywhere in the late 70’s and early 80’s and was served for decades. And then it disappeared. Fell out of grace.
I’ve noticed lately, Classic Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing is making a bit of a comeback. And like most comebacks, there are changes. I loved the salad just as it was, so I went and dragged my old recipe box out so I could find my original recipe – from 1978. Yep. 40 years ago! That makes Classic Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing vintage, and me? Well, I’m an antique!
About Classic Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing:
If you’ve never had Classic Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing, it has roots stretching back to Germany and other Eastern European countries with the tangy, sweet bacon vinaigrette. That Warm Bacon Vinaigrette is just luscious and coats the spinach so beautifully. The spinach, in turn, is strong enough to stand up to the bold bacon flavor and to the warmth of dressing without actually wilting. It turns out spinach and bacon are a great flavor combo.
The salad reads like a meal. The spinach gets tossed with the vinaigrette then put down as the first layer. Then it’s topped with all the goodies. There’s plenty of protein & so much more flavor with the hard-boiled eggs and the extra sprinkle of bacon. Mushrooms come into play next, preferably plain old button mushrooms along with a little red onion for just a bit of a bite. That’s it, the whole recipe in a nutshell. Just as it was given to me
years decades ago, with no “newfangled” ingredients.
There’s no special vinegar like balsamic, definitely no Dijon mustard, no poached or soft boiled eggs, no portabellas or other fancy mushrooms. Just plain old, honest ingredients. Just Classic Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing as it was meant to be. And this is exactly how I like mine, but if you want to gussy up or update Classic Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing in your own way, feel free. No judgment, here. Well, not much anyway, lol!
Making Classic Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing:
The salad is deceptively simple for such a gorgeous salad. The vinaigrette is made right in the skillet the bacon is cooked in and if you take a minute to cut up the bacon before you cook it, it cooks in minutes. I like to keep my bacon in the freezer because I don’t tend to eat a lot of bacon and it’s a great way to keep a bit on hand for recipes. Just take it out before you start the hard boiled eggs and it will be soft enough to slice through and still frozen enough to slice through easily. About a half inch slice through the package (1/16th of the package) equals about one slice of bacon.
As for your hard-boiled eggs, you can use the Best Basic Boiled Method, the Easy Peel Steam Method or make your Hard-boiled Eggs in the Instant Pot. I highly recommend either of the last two methods for easy peeling eggs, but it’s your call. And as long as you’re making a few, you might as well make more for snacking or my Best Egg Salad Sandwiches. Just sayin’.
Alton Brown did a few experiments on mushrooms – and he says its ok to rinse your mushrooms. If you’re more comfortable just brushing the dirt off, that’s up to you, too. The only ingredients we haven’t covered is the red onion. I love the sharp bite, but if you find it strong, soak the slices in cold water for 10 minutes or so. It really tames them down.
Saving Money on Classic Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing:
The spinach is so much cheaper than it used to be, but it’s even cheaper in the bundle instead of by the bag. It kind of defies reason – the bags look so much larger but they’re filled with loose, not bundled spinach. If you’re determined to buy spinach in a bag check Costco or Aldi.
The priciest item is the bacon and you’re going to find the best prices around any holiday and especially any holiday where brunch is usually served. Stock up at a low and stick it in your freezer where it keeps beautifully for months and takes up little room. It’s best to not be too particular about brand names when looking for sales – you never know what will pop up at a great price. Eggs, too, are a great holiday item and they can be found at an excellent price, too, at Aldi (for smaller packages) or Costco (in larger ones.) Eggs keep for weeks in the fridge past their “buy by” date.
Look for mushrooms on sale, too, especially around holidays when they’re usually half off – they don’t keep long, but if you want to keep them a bit fresher, turn the package upside down and poke a few holes in the bottom. That’s going to keep them out of the condensation that they’re most likely sitting in and make them last a smidge longer.
Classic Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing
Feel free to add as much or as little of the bacon, eggs, spinach & onion. While you’re at it, feel free to tinker with the dressing, too, adding more or less sugar, salt, pepper.
- 4 – 8 slices bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces + 3 tablespoons drippings, reserved
- three tablespoons minced white or yellow onion
- 1/3 cup cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoons mustard powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
- 6 oz (about 8 cups) baby spinach
- 8 ounces white button mushrooms, thickly sliced
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
- 4 to 8 hard-boiled eggs, sliced in halves or quartered
Add bacon to cold skillet and turn to medium heat. Cook, stirring often until done to desired taste. Remove bacon and set aside. Remove all but three tablespoons of the drippings. If there aren’t three tablespoons, add a bit of vegetable oil. Place the bacon in a medium nonstick skillet and fry over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the onion to the skillet and cook for a minute or two until softened. Remove from heat and add the vinegar, sugar, mustard powder, salt, and pepper. Whisk vigorously,
Add spinach to a large bowl and toss with a little of the warm dressing. Divide into serving bowls, garnish with egg, mushrooms, onion and reserved bacon. Pass the remaining vinaigrette.