Friday, March 26, 2010

Warm Balsamic Bean and Spinach Salad

To my delight, I discovered the bag of CSA spinach from last week hiding in the back of the fridge. It was as fresh and beautiful as if it had just been picked. The Coconut-Cashew Greens from Moosewood Celebrates came to mind, but then I discovered a recipe for warm bean salad with balsamic vinegar and bacon--two things that go splendidly with spinach. I am not above muscling a major ingredient into an existing recipe! A few other alterations resulted in a quite delicious main dish.

If using bacon or garlic in a dish, I like to add them near the end of cooking so the bacon has more texture and the garlic retains its fresh flavor.

I served this salad as an entree, but the recipe would work well as an accompaniment to meats if you left out the beans and upped the quantity of onion and spinach. The bay leaf adds an interesting layer of flavor under the balsamic and bacon.

Update: Despite the unassuming nature of this dish's appearance, it is very good. Second-helping-by-husband good. And leftover-for-lunch-the-next-day good. Too good not to add this update!
Adapted from A New Way to Cook by Sally Schneider

4 slices (about 2 ounces) natural bacon
2 cloves garlic

1 large CSA onion, halved and sliced thinly
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
A few generous grinds of black pepper

12 ounces or so CSA spinach leaves, washed, with large stems removed

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 bay leaves

3 cups cooked beans (I used the CSA nine-bean mix I cooked and froze earlier)

Peel and chop the garlic finely. Place in small dish. In large skillet, fry bacon pieces until crisp. Remove to bacon pieces to small dish with the garlic.

To same skillet, add onion, crushed red pepper, salt, and black pepper. Saute onions for about 10 minutes or until they soften and start to turn golden.

Add spinach, stir well, and cover. Cook for five minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted.

Add balsamic vinegar, 3 tablespoons water, bay leaves, and beans. Stir, and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in bacon and garlic and heat through.

Makes four generous servings.

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