May 2, 2006

Eat Your Heart Out—May 2, 2006

It is rather ironic that spinach is known as the “prince of vegetables.” As noted by food historian Alan Davidson, in medieval times spinach was used mainly in sweet dishes, combined with egg, honey, almonds, and spices to make tarts or flans. This fell out of style, and spinach is now almost exclusively a savory vegetable. However, spinach as a key ingredient in salads seems to have come of age in the 1970s and 1980s. Spinach is a nice salad green because it has more flavor and higher levels of iron and calcium than most lettuces. Spinach salad is very easy to prepare and makes for a delightful lunch. Each of the salads listed here contains a variety of color and texture in each bite. It seems the prince of vegetables makes for the king of salads.

Both salads serve 1.

Spinach Salad #1

about 2 cups baby spinach

4 white mushrooms, cleaned and cut into thin slices

2 strips bacon

1/4 red onion, cut into thin slices

1/2 hardboiled egg, chopped into small pieces

3 teaspoons olive oil

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon grainy Dijon mustard

salt and freshly ground pepper

In a frying pan or microwave, cook the bacon until crisp and crumble into small pieces. While the bacon is frying, combine the spinach, mushrooms, egg, and onion into a bowl. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing: combine the olive oil, vinegar, and mustard into a separate dish and whisk until smooth. When the bacon is crisped and crumbled but still warm, add to the vegetables and toss with the dressing. Serve immediately and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Spinach Salad #2

about 2 cups baby spinach

2 Tablespoons slivered almonds

2 Tablespoons dried cranberries

1 Tablespoon goat cheese, crumbled into small pieces

olive oil

balsamic vinegar

salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl. Dress with olive oil and vinegar to coat (about a Tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of vinegar) and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Toss well in the bowl and serve.