Wish Upon A Dish: Insalata Tiepida di Spinaci (Warm Spinach Salad Italian Style)

June 6, 2013

Insalata Tiepida di Spinaci (Warm Spinach Salad Italian Style)


We both agree that we look forward to the first grilled steakhouse steak dinner of the summer. Would have been even better if we could have sat on the patio to eat it, but just the fact that the steak was grilled over coals made up for that.

While the steak is what The Nudge likes about this meal, the spinach salad is my favorite, especially this version.

Usually I make the salad via the Alton Brown method which produces a very presentable version.
This time I Italian-ized it both in the ingredients and the technique.

When watching Lidia's Italy in America, her Executive Chef at Del Posto made a guest appearance and assisted Lidia in the making of a spinach salad. What he did different is to saute part of the salad in the dressing and then added it to the remaining salad.

Crunchy salad ingredients mixed with soft, heated ingredients then topped with creamy hard boiled eggs and Gorgonzola cheese and crunchy baked pancetta. Oh, yes. This was good.
If you are not a fan of raw mushrooms, this version is for you. Not a fan of smoked bacon, pancetta is smoke-free. The tang of the creamy Gorgonzola works well off the salty pork.

Like I said, a plethora of textures and tastes. Bitter, sweet, sour and salty.

Paired with a perfectly grilled chili rubbed rib-eye steak or Mahi Mahi, you have the makings of a great al fresco meal, even if the intense heat makes it too uncomfortable to dine outside.

Warm Pancetta Dressing
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Makes: 1/4 cup

* 2 bunches of fresh spinach (not baby)
* 1 large hard boiled eggs, sliced
* 3 button mushrooms, sliced
* 2 tablespoons Gorgonzola cheese (or blue cheese of choice)
* 3 pancetta slices, sauteed until crisp
* 3 thinly slices of red onion
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
* 1 teaspoon honey
* Freshly ground black pepper

1. Wash and spin dry the spinach leaves. Tear into bite sized pieces.
2. Slice the mushrooms and egg using an egg slicer and the red onion using a mandoline

3. Saute the pancetta in a heavy frying pan until crisp and all the fat has rendered. Remove the pancetta from the pan using a slotted spoon.
4. To the hot pork fat, add the olive oil, garlic, vinegar and honey. Stir till combined.
5. Right before serving, throw in 1/3 of the spinach, mushrooms and red onion. Cook until just wilted.
6. Turn off the heat and spoon cooked ingredients into the remaining salad ingredients and toss.
7. Top with the sliced egg, Gorgonzola and crumbled pancetta.

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