Warm Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing

This salad is a dream. Bacon takes center stage along with ingredients like crisp spinach, jammy eggs, sweet candied nuts, hearty sweet potato, and more. YUM!

Whether at home or out at a restaurant, my family lovessss a good salad course. Ask anyone who knows us, and they’ll tell you right away. My husband’s joke is that he always thinks of the Florio family (my maiden name) when he sees a solid Wedge Salad on any menu. That’s the all-time fam fav LOL.


Growing up, and still in my own home today, we’d have a big salad with every single meal, and sometimes a huge hearty salad would be the main course. You get the point: we. love. salad!


My family used to frequent this restaurant on Saturday nights, and I’d order the same spinach salad every single time. This wasn’t your everyday spinach salad. First of all, it was served entirely warm. It was tossed in a crazy good, piping hot bacon dressing, which wilted the spinach, softened the cheese, warmed a big bed of mushrooms, and drew out the earthy flavors of crunchy Pignoli nuts. The flavors and textures just came together in this unexpected, crazy delicious way. That restaurant unfortunately closed a while back, but this recipe is inspired by that salad, and the beautiful food memory that surrounds Saturday nights out with my family back in the day.


This Warm Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing is lovely as a delicious weeknight meal or side for the fam, beautiful to serve as a holiday salad course, or an awesome go-to to prepare for yourself as a weekday lunch. It’s got it all when it comes to flavor and texture: crisp, earthy spinach, salty bacon, sharp goat cheese, hearty sweet potato, crunchy, toasty candied nuts, and chewy, tangy dried cranberries are enjoyed in every single bite. Top it all off with your fav version of the almighty egg, jammy or hard boiled, and a hot bacon dressing made with hickory bacon fat, caramelly coconut sugar, and sweet and tangy balsamic. YUM, now I’m hungry. Salad for dinner, it is!


If you try it out, be sure to tag @threebirdsonestove so I can check out your delish dish!

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cook Time: 40 Minutes

Yield: Serves 4


Ingredients

For the Salad:

1 6-ounce bag of spinach in a large, wide salad bowl

6 strips applewood bacon, baked and then cut into lardons*

1 large sweet potato (about one pound), peeled, cubed, and roasted*

⅓ cup crumbled goat cheese

⅓ cup dried cranberries

½ cup candied nuts (check out my Roasted Candied Walnuts)

3 hard boiled or jammy eggs*


For the Hot Bacon Dressing (Makes about ¼ Cup):

All of the fat from bacon strips

1 tablespoon coconut sugar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F to prep bacon and sweet potato at the same time.


For the Bacon:

  1. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Arrange the bacon slices in a single layer and bake for 18-20 minutes, until they are as crispy as you’d like. Once cooked, remove the strips and allow any excess fat to drip off and then remove the strips, moving them to a paper towel lined plate to cool. Once cool, cut into lardons. Pour the bacon fat from the pan into a small pot.

For the Sweet Potato:

  1. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Peel and cube the sweet potato. Toss in olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste, and bake for about 35 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork, tossing halfway through. Remove from the oven and mix into the spinach immediately, while still hot.

For the Eggs:

  1. Bring a medium pot of heavily salted water to a rolling boil. For jammy eggs, boil for 6 ½ minutes uncovered. For hard boiled eggs, boil for 13 minutes uncovered. Whichever you decide, plunge them into an ice bath immediately after boiling to stop the cooking. Peel once cooled down and slice into halves or thin slices.

Assemble the Salad:

  1. Add the goat cheese, cranberries, and candied nuts to the bowl of spinach and toss. Stir in the hot sweet potatoes and bacon lardons. Top with the eggs. Top with the hot bacon dressing (method below).

For the Dressing:

  1. Once you’ve poured the bacon fat from the pan into a small pot, add the coconut sugar and balsamic and stir over low heat until it comes to a simmer and the sugar has completely dissolved. Pour the hot dressing over the salad right before serving and toss so that it slightly wilts the spinach leaves and softens the goat cheese. Serve immediately.


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