Do you remember wilted spinach salad? Or is that just something from my childhood?
Spinach dressed in hot bacon drippings and vinegar until it wilts and becomes surprisingly delicious?
I remember. I loved the stuff, but because I assumed the magic was in the bacon, I’ve not given it much thought since becoming a vegetarian many moons ago.
But then, for some reason, thoughts of wilted spinach salad emerged, and I just had to come up with a vegetarian version. As it turns out, the magic isn’t in the bacon grease. In this version, freshly-sauteed red onions and crumbled feta cheese warmed with apple cider vinegar and olive oil help to wilt the spinach. Just a little bit. Just enough.
I slightly adapted this recipe from Bon Appetit, using apple cider vinegar instead of the sherry vinegar they called for, and adding hard-boiled eggs to give it a little more variety of texture and overall heartiness.
And, of course, I topped my resident carnivore’s version with bacon. I mean, it’s plenty magic without, but a little bacon finish (for those who really want it) can never hurt.
Wilted Spinach and Feta Salad with Optional Bacon
- 6 cups fresh baby spinach leaves (washed and dried)
- 5 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- 1 medium red onion (cut into 1/4-inch thick wedges with some core attached)
- 2 hard-boiled eggs (diced)
- 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- Kosher or other coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Optional bacon - per serving
- 1 slice bacon (cooked, drained, cooled, and chopped)
- Add spinach to a large bowl.
- Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat-high. Add onions and saute, stirring occasionally, until softened and some bits are brown, about 7 minutes.
- Remove skillet from heat. Pour onions over spinach. Top with egg.
- Add remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil to skillet and stir in the feta cheese. Stir in unheated skillet until the cheese begins to melt, about 1 minute. Stir in the apple cider vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Pour the cheese mixture over the salad. Toss thoroughly to coat and wilt the spinach slightly.
- Divide between four plates. Top individual servings with chopped bacon if desired.