How to Make a Spinach Salad

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When shopping, look for bright green spinach leaves.
When shopping, look for bright green spinach leaves. (Image: oksix/iStock/Getty Images)

Start to Finish: 30 minutes Servings: 4 to 6 Difficulty Level: Beginner

If you want to know what it's like to crave salad, pair tender spinach with salty bacon, creamy egg and tangy vinaigrette. This classic salad combination is a favorite for good reason, but it's also only one of countless ways to turn simple spinach into a mealtime star.

Ingredients

Salad

  • 4 eggs
  • 8 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 cup white mushrooms
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 cup croutons

Bacon Vinaigrette

  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 shallots
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Prepping the Ingredients

Place the eggs in a medium saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover them by about 1 inch. Set the pan over high heat. When the water comes to a boil, turn off the heat and cover the pan. Set a timer for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, drain the hot water and cover the eggs with cold water.

Wipe the mushrooms with a wet paper towel to clean them. Slice the mushrooms, the red onion and the tomato into bite-size chunks.

Sort through the spinach leaves and remove any pieces that are wilted or brown. Cut off any stems you see, other than those on very small, tender leaves.

Next, wash the spinach. Even if you're using bagged greens that are labeled pre-washed, Consumer Reports advises washing it again.

Fill a large bowl with cool water. Add the spinach and swirl it around with your hands. Scoop the spinach out and into a colander. Dump out the water and repeat the process. Continue swirling the spinach in bowlfuls of clean water until you see no grit at the bottom of the water bowl.

Dry the spinach by patting it with paper towels or using a salad spinner.

Assembling and Dressing

Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy. Meanwhile, mince the garlic and shallots.

Remove the cooked bacon and discard all except about 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease. Add the garlic and shallot to the pan of grease and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.

Take the pan off the heat and add in the mustard, vinegar, oil and sugar. Whisk the vinaigrette until it's combined. Add a pinch each of salt and pepper. Dip a spinach leaf into the dressing to taste and make adjustments as necessary.

Peel the cooled eggs and cut them into thin slices. Crumble the cooled bacon.

Place the spinach in a large serving bowl. Sprinkle the bacon, red onion, tomato and mushrooms over it. Arrange the egg slices on top of the spinach. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and finish with the croutons.

Other Spinach Salad Ideas

A bed of spinach can be the base for any number of salad combinations.

  • Top spinach with chopped strawberries, pecans and strawberry vinaigrette.
  • Use thinly sliced pears, chunks of goat cheese or blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette on a spinach salad.
  • Make a simple side salad by topping spinach with a variety of toasted and chopped nuts -- walnuts and pecans are perfect for this use -- and a drizzle of lemon vinaigrette dressing.
  • Make a main course salad by topping spinach with grilled chicken or salmon. Try pairing this salad with with ginger or sesame dressing and chopped avocado.
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