Right now is the time of year for a warming and hearty winter salad, like this spinach salad! Spinach is great cold-weather green which can stand up to heartier flavors and I love it mixed with white beans that have been sauteed in bacon fat and tossed in a tangy, sherry vinegar dressing. Make the salad just before everyone comes to the table so the white beans are still warm from the skillet, the shallots retain their crunch, and the bacon is still crispy. Yum!
While I do love a gratin, and I have another for you in the next post, I also still love a salad in the winter. Grains, beans, and cold weather greens are some of the ingredients I mix together to put salads on the table until the early greens show up at the farmer’s market. Like my Winter Romaine Salad with Yogurt Dressing, this warm spinach and bean salad takes advantage of the sturdier greens available now and mixes them together with flavors that say comfort food. I like serving this salad with a vegetable soup, like Slow Cooker Potato Leek Soup or Roasted Tomato Basil Soup. Both provide a great counterpoint to the salad!
I started this recipe thinking I would use bacon fat for the dressing, but I really liked the fruity flavor of the olive oil in the forefront while the bacon acts as a backup player. Also, I personally find lemon juice to be way too assertive in the dressing, so I switched to milder sherry vinegar, which has really become a favorite of mine in recent years. However, a little lemon zest added just the right amount of zip! Finally, I tried sauteing the dressing with the beans, but I liked the stronger, sharper flavor of just barely warmed shallots over the flavor of cooked shallots.
While the bacon is cooking is the perfect time to prep the rest of the salad. Mince the garlic, make up the dressing, and set out the spinach on the plates. Then get the beans sauteing once the bacon is done. You’ll have this salad on the table in no time!
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
Warm White Bean, Bacon, and Spinach Salad
- 3 slices thick cut bacon
- 1 15 oz can cannellini beans drained and rinsed
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 8 oz prewashed baby spinach
- parmesan cheese shaved
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 1 tsp mustard
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tbsp minced shallots
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Cook bacon over medium heat in a skillet until browned and crispy, turning every so often so they brown evenly on both sides. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat. Add the beans to the skillet and saute them until they are warmed through and have taken on the flavor of the bacon fat. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Mix together all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and then pour the dressing into the skillet with the beans. Stir to warm it through.
- Divide the spinach among four salad bowls, then top each with a portion of the beans and dressing. Crumble the bacon over and shave some parmesan on top.