When I think about my shortcomings (which I try to do as little as possible), poor brunch ordering is definitely high on the list. It’s probably sandwiched somewhere between “hoarding” and “always forgets to buy toilet paper,” and like those, it’s a pretty serious issue.
For some unknown reason, I tend to panic every time I’m presented with a brunch menu. I’m usually tempted by the sweeter options like French toast, waffles and pancakes of all kinds, but then I worry that I’ll be jealous and dissatisfied with my choice when I see someone else’s savory order. Logical solutions to this problem include a.) ordering something both sweet and savory b.) splitting several different items with my brunch companions, and c.) asking the waiter to bring me the best thing on the menu and leaving it at that.
Sadly, I rarely go the logical route. Instead, I read the menu infinity times, pick approximately 7 things I want, grill my companions about what they are going to order, start sweating, ask the waiter for more time and cocktails, and generally act like a hot mess. When the waiter and/or my tablemates insist that I make a decision (my roommate gets especially cranky when I deny him the right to order his feast immediately), I inevitably blurt out the most random thing on the menu. This never ends well.
Recent brunch orders have included: tomato quiche (I do not like quiche, and I’m only somewhat on board with tomatoes), a jicama salad (just, no), creamy breakfast lasagna (ridiculously heavy and disastrous for a hangover stomach), and plain scrambled eggs. WTF. Needless to say, I tend to leave brunch angry, hungry and slightly drunk, which is an unfortunate combination.
The fact that I can’t seem to order a decent brunch truly boggles my mind. After all, my ideal brunch requirements are actually quite simple. It should involve bacon and eggs in some way, and it should not make me feel the need to lie down immediately after (see: breakfast lasagna). Being healthy is certainly not mandatory, but it’s always appreciated.
So, when I woke up last Sunday, I figured perhaps making myself brunch would be smarter than putting on pants and hauling myself to a local hotspot only to order something weird and lame. After all, I had bacon, eggs, and plenty of booze in my fridge. I’m pleased to report that less than half an hour after the idea came to me, I was happily digging into a Warm Spinach Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette and a Fried Egg, and it was glorious.
I couldn’t have more wonderful things to say about this fancy salad. I love a cold spinach salad, but there’s something about crispy bacon and warm mushrooms and onions sautéed in bacon grease that makes this salad feel a whole lot more decadent. The bacon vinaigrette has just the right amount of sweetness, acidity and creamy depth to round out the salad, but it’s the fried egg that really takes it to the next level. When you break the yolk and everything gets bathed in egg-y goodness. I swear you’ll experience a rare moment of blissed-out food Nirvana. It’s that good.
Not only does this salad taste incredible, it’s also surprisingly good for you. I know that sounds impossible based on the fact that there is both bacon and bacon grease involved, but it’s the truth. Realistically, there’s only about a tablespoon of bacon-y fat per salad, which isn’t going to kill you or pop the button on your skinny jeans anytime soon, I promise. Plus, spinach is a nutritional badass. It offers twice as much fiber as other greens, and it’s packed with disease-fighting antioxidants, potassium, and important phytochemicals that are very helpful in regulating your blood sugar and giving your skin a Gwyneth-like glow. Booyah.
Dude Dieters, Warm Spinach Salad is definitely one you’ll want to add to your not-so-stupid-salad repertoire. It’s hearty enough to keep you feeling full and satisfied for hours without adding any extra padding to your “six pack.” (This is especially helpful with the holiday season so close on the horizon, dudes. I want all of you entering that disaster zone at a fighting weight.) I actually fed this to the Dude last Sunday and he was ecstatic. He called it a “fucking fantastic creation,” and he hates mushrooms, so you know it’s bomb.
Obviously, Warm Spinach Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette should not be confined to brunch. It makes a delicious lunch as well as a fuss-free dinner. You could also eat it for breakfast, in which case I would recommend sautéing the spinach with the mushrooms and onions. (You know, on the off chance that you aren’t into early morning salads.) This recipe only takes about 15 minutes to throw together, so get after it, friends.
Warm Spinach Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette and a Fried Egg: (Serves 2)
4 slices thick cut bacon, cut into ¾ inch strips
2 cups white mushrooms, sliced
½ red onion, very thinly sliced
5 ounces baby spinach, washed and stems removed
2 extra large eggs
For the Bacon Vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon bacon grease
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon light brown sugar, packed
Fresh ground pepper
Preparing your Warm Spinach Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette and a Fried Egg:
-Slice your bacon into ¾ inch strips. This is easier to do with very cold bacon, so I recommend putting it in the freezer for 15 minutes before slicing it.
-Divide the spinach among two plates or bowls.
- 4 slices thick cut bacon, cut into ¾ inch strips
- 2 cups white mushrooms, sliced
- ½ red onion, very thinly sliced
- 5 ounces baby spinach, washed and stems removed
- 2 extra large eggs
- For the Bacon Vinaigrette:
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon bacon grease
- 1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon light brown sugar, packed
- Fresh ground pepper
- Slice your bacon into ¾ inch strips. This is easier to do with very cold bacon, so I recommend putting it in the freezer for 15 minutes before slicing it.
- Cook your bacon in a large non-stick pan until it is browned and crispy. This should take about 10 minutes.Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon from the pan to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Reserve the bacon grease in a small bowl.
- Heat 1½ tablespoons of the reserved bacon grease in the bacon pan and add the mushrooms and onions. Sauté for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms are tender. Set aside and keep warm while you prepare the bacon vinaigrette.
- Heat 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon bacon grease in a small pan. Whisk in the Dijon, vinegar and brown sugar until smooth. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
- Fry your eggs in a non-stick pan until the whites are set, but the yolks are still runny. If you want to get crazy, fry them in the remaining bacon grease.
- Divide the spinach among two plates or bowls. Drizzle each with bacon vinaigrette and add the warm mushrooms and onions. Top each salad with a fried egg and serve immediately.