This is a take on a 70’s classic warm spinach salad – which to me was one of the only ways I would eat spinach or a salad. The apple spinach salad with warm bacon dressing is one I made a lot when I was young, broke and cooking for one. Not being able to afford good olive oil at the time, I used rendered bacon fat instead. It’s easy, quick and oh so tasty and goes well with a bowl of soup, pasta or grilled steak.
There are two parts to this salad. The first is the bacon vinaigrette that uses avocado oil (or canola oil), crumbles of thick cut bacon, a shallot, mixed with mustard, apple cider vinegar and maple syrup.
I know, I know my church ccokbook recipe uses sugar, but I opt for maple syrup to bring the right amount of sweetness. Of course, if you like the taste and flavor of a true warm bacon Dijon dressing, skip the maple syrup or adding a sweetener.
The second part is the salad. I toss the vinaigrette with baby spinach, sliced apples or pears and finely chopped parsley.
Serve this warm spinach salad as the “green” side when making Turkey Breast with Stuffing Thanksgiving Dinner for Two, or with a bowl of curry squash soup or pumpkin ravioli during the weekday.
What you'll need
Here's a quick overview of some of the key ingredients needed to make the salad and the bacon maple vinaigrette. The full recipe can be found at the bottom of the post.
For the warm bacon maple vinaigrette:
- Avocado oil (or canola oil) – for this vinaigrette I opt for avocado oil because of its more grassy, mildly sweet avocado flavor that pairs nicely with the bacon, parlsey and apples in the salad.
- Crumbled thick cut bacon – freeze the bacon for about 20 minutes to make it easier to chop into lardons (¼-inch thick pieces of bacon cut from a slab that are cooked until crisp).
- Shallots – we will use shallots in the vinaigrette and add some to the salad.
- Dijon mustard – this is ingredient has two important roles. One is to stabilize the emulsion of vinegar and oil (two ingredients that do not mix easily) and the second is to impart flavor.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Maple syrup – as I mentioned above, this is optional, but I like a bit of sweet in my warm bacon vinaigrette.
For the Salad:
- Baby spinach
- Apple like pink lady, lady crisp or other apple you enjoy eating. I often will swap out the apples for pears to switch it up.
- Sea salt
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make apple spinach salad with warm bacon dressing
Alright, gather your ingredients and let’s walk through making the salad and warm bacon dressing from start to finish.
Render the bacon: Grab a sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-low heat, add the bacon, cooking until it begins to crisp. We want the bacon halfway rendered – a process that is slow but it’s the only way to completely extract the fat from the bacon without charring it. This will take about 10 minutes.
Stir in shallots and mustard. Using a whisk stir the shallot and mustard into the bacon pan. Add the vinegar and maple syrup, if using, stirring vigorously. Immediately remove from the heat. Leave the dressing in the pan until you are ready to toss the salad.
Assemble the salad. In a medium bowl, combine the spinach, shallot, apple and parsley. If your bacon vinaigrette has cooled, gently warm it then drizzle over the spinach. Season with salt and gently toss.
What to serve with warm spinach salad
Here are some of my favorite dishes to serve with apple spinach salad with warm bacon dressing:
Looking for other salad and side recipes for two? Try these:
Consider doubling the dressing recipe and keep a jar on hand in the refrigerator. Transfer the warm bacon dressing to a heat proof jar with a tight-fitting lid and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
This dressing is best warmed before serving. You can do this by putting the jar in a pan with hot tap water and swirling from time to time or by removing the lid and heating at 50% power in the microwave in 20 second bursts until heated through.
Some ideas for using up leftover apple spinach salad with warm bacon dressing is to add rotisserie chicken. Another option is to poach or fry an egg to put on top – it is delicious!
Apple Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing
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For the bacon maple vinaigrette:
- 1 teaspoon avocado oil or canola oil
- ¼ pound thick-cut bacon cut into lardons ¼ inch pieces of bacon
- 1 shallot minced
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup optional
For the salad:
- 4 ounces baby spinach thick stems removed
- 1 shallot thinly sliced
- 1 apple cored and thinly sliced into half-moons
- 2 sprigs parsley picked and finely chopped
- Fine sea salt
For the maple bacon dressing:
- Grab a sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-low heat, add the bacon, cooking until it begins to crisp and the bacon is halfway done, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in shallots. Using a whisk stir in the shallot and mustard into the bacon pan. Add the vinegar and maple syrup, stirring vigorously. Immediately remove from the heat. Leave the dressing in the pan until you are ready to toss the salad.
Assemble the salad.
- In a medium bowl, combine the spinach, shallot, apple and parsley. If your bacon vinaigrette has cooled, gently warm over low heat. Drizzle over the spinach. Season with salt and gently toss.
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