Friday, February 19, 2010


Yes, another salad with bacon and another mustard vinaigrette. I just can’t help myself! This one has a convoluted story: Along with kale and fennel, I’ve been craving sweet potatoes lately. In my analog recipe stash, I had a photocopied recipe from some forgotten cookbook for a warm side dish of sweet potatoes with spinach and bacon, which suddenly started sounding irresistible to me. So I went online to see if anyone else had made the recipe and what they thought of it. It turns out that you get a lot of results if you Google “sweet potatoes spinach bacon”—but most of them are salads. Apparently, sweet potato, spinach and bacon salad is, like, an established thing? I clicked on a few recipes and soon realized that they sounded better than the original recipe I’d been searching for. First I found this Mark Bittman recipe at Serious Eats, but I wasn’t sure the ginger, cumin, and orange flavors were what I wanted. Then I found this Rachel Ray recipe (yep, I fell into the Rachel Ray vortex again). It sounded delicious, except for the fact that the sweet potatoes were boiled, which, bleah. Why boil a sweet potato when you can roast it? So I stole the roasting method from the Bittman recipe, halved the Rachel Ray recipe, and went to work. We were both extremely pleased with the result. This is a big, bold salad bursting with a wide variety of flavors, textures, and fresh, colorful vegetables. I could have just eaten the salt-and-peppery roasted sweet potato chunks on their own, but on a bed of crisp spinach (mine didn't really wilt; I think my dressing had cooled a bit, but I didn't mind), dressed in a tart-sweet dressing and spangled with bacon, they were amazing. Even non-sweet-potato-lovers (A is one) will love this.

2 medium-large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 slices bacon, diced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2–3 cups baby spinach

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Roast, turning occasionally, until crisp and brown outside and just tender inside, 20–30 minutes. Remove from oven and keep them on the pan until ready to use.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, place a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the bacon, and cook until crisp.

3. Remove the bacon from the pan and add the onion, garlic, some salt, and tons of black pepper to the bacon drippings. Cook until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes.

4. Remove pan from the heat and add the mustard, vinegar, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil, whisking vigorously to incorporate the dressing.

5. Place the spinach in a large bowl, add the sweet potatoes, pour the dressing on top, and toss well to coat the potatoes and lightly wilt the spinach. Crumble the bacon over everything. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves: 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish
Time: 45 minutes
Leftover potential: We didn't try, but probably not great.

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