Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

There are a lot of spinach salads recipes out there.  It seemed to me that the real difference was the hot dressing that went on at the end.  Some were too vinegary, some not sweet enough or too sweet.  I think I found the right mix with increasing the amount of dressing just a little, using red wine vinegar instead of cider vinegar and uping the sugar just a tad.  

This salad comes together quickly, so have ingredients ready before you begin cooking. I like to use pre-washed spinach sold in 5 to 6-ounce packages. I prefer the hard-sided clear containers as opposed to the bags.  The  spinach lasts longer due to not being damaged during handling. When adding the vinegar mixture to the skillet, step back from the stove top and don't breath in--the aroma is quite potent.

3 large eggs
8 ounces baby spinach (about 10 cups-It will reduce down when wilted by the hot ingredients)
4-5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
dash of salt
8 slices (about 10 ounces) thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces *
1/2 medium red onion, sliced thinly (about 1/2 cup)
1 pkg. mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1/2 teaspoon)

1. Place eggs in medium saucepan, cover with 1 inch of water, and bring to boil over high heat. When water comes to a rolling boil, remove from heat, cover, and let stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, fill medium bowl with 1-quart ice water. After ten minutes, transfer eggs to ice water with slotted spoon; let stand 5 minutes or until cooled, peel eggs, and slice into rounds and set aside.
2. Place spinach in large bowl. 
3. Stir vinegar, sugar, pepper, mustard and salt together in small bowl until sugar dissolves; set aside.
4. Fry bacon in medium skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp- about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel–lined plate. Pour bacon fat into heatproof bowl, and then return 3 tablespoons bacon fat to skillet. Add onion to skillet and cook slowly, stirring frequently, until onions are slightly softened and beginning to caramelize. Remove onions with a slotted spoon and place on top of spinach.  This will begin the wilting process for the spinach.  Add the sliced mushrooms to the same skillet.  Cook slowly until caramelized and brown.  Remove mushrooms and place on spinach with onions.  Remove all but about 1 tablespoon of bacon grease.  Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add vinegar mixture, stir until thoroughly heated then remove skillet from heat; working quickly, scrape bottom of skillet with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Pour hot dressing over spinach, add bacon, and toss gently with tongs until spinach is slightly wilted. Divide among individual plates, arrange egg slices over each, and serve.

*(I have used Applewood smoked bacon, honey-peppered bacon as well as hickory smoked.  I have also used real bacon bits that come in packages that can be rejuvenated by placing a half a cup or so on a paper towel-lined plate and microwaved for 30 seconds or until they crispen slightly.)


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