Everything tastes better with bacon. Marie Rama the co-author of "Bacon Nation" (which contains 125 recipes) joins Cyndi on Daytime to make a warm bacon spinach salad.
Warm Spinach Salad
with Bacon, Shrimp, and Bell Peppers
Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as an appetizer
Spinach is both delicate in texture and hearty in flavor, which means its taste doesn't get drowned out by bacon. Red bell peppers and shrimp make for a juicy, sweet, nutty combination. Crisp bacon adds flavor and crunch and the pan drippings of bacon fat, the juice of the shrimp, and the bell peppers join for an extraordinarily flavorful salad. Baby arugula or first-of-the year chard or kale also work beautifully in this dish.
7 to 8 packed cups (about 8 ounces) baby spinach, rinsed and patted dry
6 very thin slices red onion
6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide pieces
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or more as necessary
2 medium-size red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 1/4 pounds extra-large shrimp (21 to 24 per pound), peeled and deveined
2 to 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup loosely packed, fresh basil leaves, chopped
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Arrange the spinach leaves on 4 dinner plates (or 6 salad plates if serving the salad as an appetizer). Scatter an equal portion of the red onion slices on top of the spinach.
2 Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until browned and crisp, 7 to 9 minutes, stirring often and adjusting the heat as necessary. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Pour all of the bacon fat into a small bowl and wipe the skillet clean with paper towels. Add 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat and the olive oil to the skillet. If necessary, add enough additional olive oil to the skillet to measure a total of 6 tablespoons. Heat the bacon fat and olive oil over medium-high heat.
3 When the fat mixture starts to shimmer, add the red peppers, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the peppers start to soften, about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the shrimp and garlic and cook until the shrimp start to turn pink and firm up, about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally and turning the shrimp so that they cook evenly. Add the wine vinegar and cook, stirring, until the shrimp are cooked through and no longer translucent, about 45 seconds. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the drained bacon, half of the basil, and the lemon zest. Season the shrimp and bacon mixture with black pepper to taste. The bacon contributes a fair amount of salt, so don't add any now; pass salt at the table for those who want it.
4 Divide the shrimp mixture and pan sauce among the dinner plates, spooning them over the onion slices and spinach. Sprinkle the remaining basil evenly over each serving and serve the salad immediately.
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