Wednesday, April 18, 2012
WHITE BEAN AND SPINACH SALAD WITH WARM BACON VINAIGRETTE
And here’s yet another spinach salad with bacon that I’ve plopped an egg atop. But this one has white beans! Despite its marked similarity to many of the other new salads I’ve been discovering ever since I learned to poach an egg, I still became entranced when I spotted it at Thursday Night Smackdown, where the writing is always entertaining and insightful but the recipes are normally too complicated for my lazy ass. This one is simplicity itself—basically just canned beans on a bed of raw spinach—but the huge flavors of the vinaigrette, with its generous hits of bacon and garlic mixed with shallots, mustard, and vinegar, make the humble ingredients seem fancy.
I doubled the recipe so I could have leftovers (see note below), added the egg, and nixed the canned beans in favor of the dried yellow eye beans I’d bought on a whim at the farmers’ market. Normally I prefer dry beans to canned, but these cooked up bigger and starchier than I’d expected, and although they were still plenty delicious, I think the canned beans might actually have a better texture here and soak up more of the vinaigrette flavors, so I’m going to try canned next time. Other than that, this salad was an easy-but-sophisticated-feeling one-dish dinner—but then, it’s hard to go wrong with that much bacon. If you want to cut back on the bacon or the garlic, I’d understand.
8 strips thick-cut bacon, diced
2 large shallots, minced
12 medium cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup sherry or apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed, or 1 pound dried white beans, cooked and drained
½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
9–12 ounces baby spinach
4 eggs (optional)
1. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat has rendered out and the bacon is crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the pan to a plate lined with paper towels, keeping the fat in the pan, and turn the heat down to medium-low.
2. Add the shallots to the pan of bacon drippings and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.
3. Whisk the mustard into the vinegar, then pour the mixture into the skillet and stir to combine. Mix in the beans and pepper and cook for a few minutes to heat through. Toss in the parsley and bacon.
4. Put the spinach in a large bowl; dump the bean mixture over the top. Toss everything together, then let it sit for a few minutes. If desired, poach the eggs and place one atop each serving of salad.
Time: 30 minutes
Leftover potential: Good, if the bean mixture is stored separately from the spinach. If you want to eat two servings right away and two servings later, as we did, only combine half the bean mixture with half the spinach in Step 4. Store the leftover bean mixture separately from the leftover spinach. When you’re ready to eat them, heat up the bean mixture and then combine it with the spinach. The leftovers would probably still work OK if they’re all combined ahead of time, as long as you don’t mind wiltier spinach. But obviously, if you’re planning on topping this with a poached egg, don’t poach the egg until you’re ready to eat the leftovers.