So I have this problem. Namely, it’s a shocking inability to put a salad in my mouth that is not, at the very least, just as unhealthy than a burger or a pizza or any other non-salad-y unhealthy thing that I would otherwise be eating if I weren’t eating a “healthy” salad. And then I also have this other problem — namely, a shocking inability to leave bacon out of anything and everything. (Creamed corn. Pancakes. … Chocolate chip cookies.) Put those two together and … well, you get this salad. Ta-da! Two wrongs do make a right! (Or two rights make a righter right.)
The salad dressing was inspired by the same restaurant I wrote about last week, home of the pudding-y creamed corn that gave rise to this one. (With bacon.) That same restaurant also has one of my favorite salad dressings ever, a wicked hot bacon and honey mustard dressing that is every bit as decadent and delicious as it sounds. (It’s usually used over this monster. Now there’s a salad.) It used to be kind of my undoing. And now that I’ve discovered that it’s actually a thing, and perfectly easy to make at home? It’s definitely my undoing. I could drink this stuff. And over goat cheese, more bacon, caramelized onions, and pretty much all my other favorite things — this may be my favorite salad ever. It might not have been healthier for me than a burger (well, actually, I think it still might be … barely), but I never for a moment wished I was eating a burger instead.
And, to finish, here’s a picture I took that makes me laugh. Glorified bacon.
- for the salad:
- 4 rashers of bacon
- 1/2 onion, sliced (preferably red, but all I had was white)
- 8-9 oz baby spinach (or one large bag)
- 1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles (or more)
- 4 tbsp slivered or sliced almonds
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, diced (optional)
- 1 tomato, diced (optional)
- for the dressing:
- 3 tbsp bacon fat, reserved from bacon
- 2 tbsp mild vinegar (red wine, apple cider, or even rice vinegar will work; not distilled white or balsamic)
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp honey mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
- First, prepare your bacon. I usually bake it in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, or until crispy and the fat is rendered. You can also sprinkle a bit of brown sugar over it to caramelize it.
- While it's baking, caramelize your onions. There are plenty of tutorials on how to do this properly, but more or less, simply spread onions in a single layer in a large saucepan and leave to panfry gently at medium-low to low heat, stirring very infrequently, for at least 20-30 minutes (and up to 40-50 for the best flavor), or until very soft and almost jam-like, and onions have darkened to a rich brown. You can add a bit of vinegar and sugar at the end if you like, but it's entirely optional.
- Drain the bacon, reserving three tablespoons of the bacon fat. Add the bacon fat to a small saucepan or pot while still warm. Do not turn on the heat yet. Add in the vinegar (careful, it may spatter depending on how hot the bacon fat still is), sugar, and honey mustard. Turn the heat to low and stir until all ingredients have dissolved, then remove and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the spinach in a large bowl. Crumble the bacon, then add to the salad, along with goat cheese crumbles, almonds, caramelized onions, and anything else you might like -- I added some diced hard-boiled eggs and tomatoes. Toss lightly with the dressing and serve.