What’s Burnin’: Warm Spinach and Pancetta Salad

6 Nov

Okay, so one of my goals for NabloPoMo was to return to doing a little bit of food blogging. On the old blog that page was known as What’s Burnin’, and waddayaknow, I’m sticking with the same name here.About the recipeI invented this salad on a whim last week. Due to numerous screw ups with my Vons.com order (the love I felt here is officially gone), I found myself with about six pounds of organic spinach on hand. I made this salad almost every day for lunch last week. I am having it again for lunch today. It’s a quick and easy recipe that can be modified easily. But my favorite part about it is that it works warm or cold and almost everything in this salad can be substituted, minus the spinach. The recipe feeds one if eaten as an entree.What you needFor the salad 

  •  3 cups baby spinach
  • 4 oz diced pancetta
    • If you don’t have pancetta, you can use bacon. It will taste different, but it will still be delicious.
    • If you’re a vegetarian you can skip the pork, but you will need to add more olive oil.
  •  1 to 2 oz diced provolone
    • Any decent sharp cheese can substitute. I like feta or gorgonzola.
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup of thin sliced red onion
    • To mellow onion flavor, soaked in ice water for about ten minutes. Drain.
  • salt and pepper

For the dressing This is a basic red wine vinaigrette, you can really use any recipe you choose here and vary the ingredients to your taste. It should lean toward the sour/sweet side because many of the ingredients in this salad are salty and savory. The dressing keeps for weeks in the fridge, so make a little or a lot.

  • 1 part dijon mustard
  • 1 to 2 parts red wine vinegar
  • 1 part honey
  • 1 to 2 parts olive oil
  • salt and pepper

For the croutons

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled & left whole
  • pinch of dried thyme (or any herb you love)
  • 1/2 cup of bread, cubed
    • I like ciabatta

What you do

  1. Preheat oven (preferably toaster oven) to 400° (F).
  2. Cook the pancetta over medium heat until brown and crispy. You may need a little olive oil in the pan to prevent sticking. Remove cooked pancetta with a slotted spoon, reserving the pan drippings. Return pan to burner and reduce heat to medium-low.
  3. While pancetta browns, whisk all ingredients for the dressing. If you want to be extra decadents, a few drops of pancetta drippings would be great.
  4. Add enough olive oil to the pan to ensure you have at least two tablespoons of yummy, delicious fat. Allow the oil to heat for a minute. Tilt pan and add garlic clove. Keep pan tilted and cook until garlic turns golden brown, or fills your kitchen with it’s lovely perfume (the oil should not smoke or make a lot of bubbles; if it is, it’s too hot). 
  5. Remove garlic clove. Add bread cubes. Season with thyme, salt, and pepper. Coat all sides with oil and allow bread to toast and brown on at least two sides.
  6. Dump toasted bread cubes onto a cookie sheet. Pop into the toaster oven until crispy (about 5 minutes).
  7. Turn heat off the pan, toss in walnuts to warm through.
  8. Throw spinach, warm pancetta, provolone, onions, warm croutons, and toasted walnuts in a large bowl and toss in just enough dressing to coat. Pile on a plate and enjoy.

Alternatively, you can let croutons and pancetta sit at room temperature, and eat this salad chilled. You can also warm or chilled, diced chicken to this salad, if you desire something heartier. (Cross-posted at NabloPoMo.)


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One Response to “What’s Burnin’: Warm Spinach and Pancetta Salad”

  1. Ivan November 29, 2007 at 12:38 am #

    Hi, my name is disman-kl, i like your site and i ll be back ;)

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