I make different variations of this salad, so there are a lot of parentheses in this recipe! It’s so versatile!
This recipe was linked to Real Food Wednesday at kellythekitchenkop.com!
1 bag baby spinach (if it’s not on sale, I just get a bunch of spinach in bulk to keep my costs down)
1 pt. cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can (15 oz.) mandarin oranges (reserve liquid) (alternative: 2 large naval oranges, one juiced, and the other cut into segments for salad. Another option is to juice one orange and use 1/2 c. dried cranberries instead of the orange segments.)
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 red onion, diced (not shown above)
6 oz. sliced mushrooms (any kind you like. I love baby bellas, but white button mushrooms are fine, too)
1 lb. bacon (I use turkey bacon, but either one will do.)
3/4 c. cheese (This is where you can have fun. I like to use either goat cheese, or parrana cheese that I get from the Farmer’s Market. You could also use a good blue cheese, feta, or anything else that floats your boat!) (Not shown above)
Dice bacon into small pieces and cook in a large skillet until extra crispy, removing with a slotted spoon onto paper towels to drain.
(NOTE: If you used turkey bacon, there won’t be much grease, if any at all, so you’ll have to add a little olive oil to the pan to saute´ the shallot and garlic for the vinaigrette. If you used regular bacon, you’ll have to drain about half, or more out of the pan.)
For the salad, I put the spinach, tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms in a salad bowl, and set the rest of the ingredients up salad bar style, so people can make up the rest of their salad to their liking.
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 TBSP. brown sugar
6 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar (it’s a milder version of reg. balsamic…very nice.)
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
6 Tbsp. reserved liquid from mandarin oranges, or fresh squeezed orange juice
salt and pepper to taste
In the same pan you made the bacon, saute´ shallots and garlic on med-low heat until translucent, but not brown. Add orange juice and brown sugar and let reduce about 3-4 min. Put balsamic vinegar into a blender, (I use my Magic Bullet, love it!) and pour the warm shallot mixture over it. Add the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and blend until smooth. Serve warm.
This salad is so good, I made it three times last week! I even sent friends home with the leftover vinaigrette!