Long ago, in a postage stamp-size kitchen within a stones throw of Alki Beach in Seattle, there was a young cook who wanted to impress her guy with the best dinner he had ever eaten.
So she stuffed and roasted two Cornish game hens, whipped potatoes, made pan gravy, threw together a creamy lemon meringue pie (his fave dessert), and then, to make sure he was sufficiently wowed, created this winning salad to kick off the meal.
Short on time, she warmed a bottled dressing and whisked in a few tablespoons of sour cream. It was surprisingly delicious. The guy was impressed.
Why else would he drive three hours every weekend from Yakima to Seattle for over a year to eat this exact same meal? And why else would he not let her change any aspect of it?
Fast forward a few decades. I don’t cook Roast Cornish Game Hens or Lemon Meringue Pie every week anymore, but Warm Spinach Mushroom Salad is still on regular rotation—with a fantastic update to the dressing.
If you have a guy to impress, this should do the trick.
Warm Spinach Mushroom Salad with Applewood-Smoked Bacon Honey Dressing
This special salad has withstood the test of time. We’ve been eating it for decades. As good as the wilted spinach, sautéed mushrooms, and crispy fried bacon are however, I could drink the dressing from the blender. Just sayin’.
Applewood-Smoked Bacon Honey Dressing
8 cups baby spinach or baby power greens (combination of spinach, kale, chard, and bok choy), cleaned and dried
4 slices thick-sliced, applewood-smoked bacon, cooked and drained
¼ medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced Mushrooms ½ pound cremini, button, or chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned, ends trimmed, and sliced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
fine sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper
- Prepare the dressing, and reserve. Heat just before serving.
- Arrange salad greens, bacon, and onion in a large bowl or on individual plates. Reserve.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss the prepared mushrooms with lemon juice.
- In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat olive oil, and then add mushrooms.
- Toss mushrooms as they cook, raising the heat to evaporate released juices.
- Season quickly with salt and pepper, and pile hot mushrooms on the salad.
- Drizzle hot salad dressing over salad and toss to combine.
- Serve immediately.
Applewood-Smoked Bacon Honey Dressing
If memory serves me, Girard’s used to produce—circa 1975 or so–a creamy bacon salad dressing and sold it in their distinctive, triangular-shaped bottle. It was expensive and considered “gourmet.” It was our bottled dressing of choice at the time.
Many years later, I no longer use bottled dressings. What for, when they are much more delicious made in my own kitchen? I no longer remember precisely what that long ago dressing tasted like, but this riff on a faded memory is so good, I no longer care.
Serving Note Dressing may be served warm or at room temperature. For a warm dressing, simply zap it in the microwave for half a minute or so.
½ cup natural-process, red wine vinegar
½ cup cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil ½ cup honey
4 slices thick-sliced applewood-smoked bacon, cooked and drained
2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat
2 tablespoons sour cream, optional
2 large cloves garlic, skinned 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard fine sea salt to taste
- In a blender, combine olive oil, vinegar, honey, bacon, bacon fat, optional sour cream, garlic, and Dijon.
- Blend until smooth and creamy.
- Taste, and add additional salt, if needed.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 1½ cups.
More LunaCafe Salads
- Baby Red Potato Salad with Applewood Smoked Bacon & Oregon Blue
- Cabbage Slaw with Fresh Ginger, Garam Masala & Roasted Peanuts
- Caramelized Pear Salad with Gorgonzola, Candied Spiced Walnuts & Spicy Orange Vinaigrette
- Grilled Prawn, Roasted Baby Tomato & Chipotle Mustard Bread Salad
- Heirloom Tomato, Sweet Onion & Mache Salad with Blue Cheese Crema
- Indian Summer Tomato, Orange & Sweet Onion Salad
- Lemon & Thyme Marinated Artichoke, Tiger Prawn & Strawberry Salad
- My Tabouleh
- Northwest Early Spring Farro & Lentil Salad
- Old-Fashioned Creamy Macaroni Salad
- Prawn & Strawberry Salad with Fresh Herb Panna Cotta
- Red & Orange Bell Pepper Salad with Mint, Parsley & Lemon-Garlic Vinaigrette
- Roasted Fall Vegetable Salad with Warm Goat Cheese & Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
- Romanesco, Applewood-Smoked Bacon, Cranberry & Pecan Salad
- Spanish Broccoli & Prawn Salad
- Spicy Penne & Chicken Salad with Chipotle Lime Dressing
- Summer Tomato, Sweet Onion & Blackberry Salad with Basil Mint Crema
- Sweet Cherry & Pea Vine Salad with Basil & Mint
- Tuscan Melon & Blackberry Salad with Prosciutto & Yogurt Chevre Dressing
- Vietnamese Chicken Salad
- Warm Cauliflower Salad with Edamame & Raisins
Cookin’ with Gas (inspiration from around the web)
- Hot Spinach Bacon and Strawberry Salad | Heather Christo
- Killer Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing | How Sweet It Is
- Warm Chorizo Spinach Salad | Frontera
- Warm Spinach Salad with Bacon, Mushrooms & Hard-Boiled Eggs | Brown Eyed Baker
Copyright 2013 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.
What an adorable story:) I see you are still mixing up lots of deliciousness. When I saw this salad in my sidebar, I just had to stop by for a nibble and to wish you and yours a Happy & Healthy New Year! Thanks for sharing, Susan…I’ll be pinning:)
Susan S. Bradley
Louise, thanks so much. Wishing you a wonderful New Year as well. 🙂