Spinach Salad with Warmed Tomatoes & Caramelized Pecans
Makes 4 servings. Difficulty
For the caramelized pecans: 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar 1 Tablespoon brown sugar Pinch of salt 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon Pinch of cayenne pepper 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter 1/4 lb. pecan halves
For the salad: 1 9 oz. package of baby spinach leaves, washed and dried 6 slices of gf bacon 1 Tablespoons white wine vinegar 1 teaspoon gf Dijon mustard 5 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 cup grape tomatoes Pinch of dried basil Pinch of dried oregano Pinch of dried thyme
To make the caramelized pecans: Heat the oven to 300°F. In a small bowl, mix the sugars with the salt, cinnamon and cayenne. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the sugar mixture. Stir until combined and the sugars have dissolved. Stir in the pecan halves.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the sugared nuts in a single layer on the sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, stir the nuts, and continue baking until the nuts smell toasted and the sugar coating is caramelized, about 15 minutes. Let the nuts cool on the parchment paper, separating them as they cool.
To make the salad: Place the spinach in a large salad bowl. Set aside.
Crisp the bacon in a large skillet over medium high heat. When browned and crisp, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to let drain. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat. Crumble bacon and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar with the mustard. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and then the tablespoon of bacon fat. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside in a warm place.
Position an oven rack as close to the broiler element as possible. Put a heavy rimmed baking sheet on the rack and heat the broiler to high. In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with the dried herbs. Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Toss to evenly coat. Spread the tomatoes out on the pre-heated baking sheet. Broil the tomatoes, stirring occasionally, until the skins are cracked and blistered and the flesh is warmed through, about 5 minutes. Turn the oven off. Transfer the tomatoes with a slotted spoon to the bowl with the salad dressing. Stir to coat and mix the seasonings into the dressing. Place the bowl in the oven (not on) to keep warm until ready to serve.
Just before serving, transfer the tomatoes from the dressing to another bowl with a slotted spoon. Whisk the dressing to re-combine. Add half the bacon to the spinach. Drizzle the greens with 3 tablespoons of dressing and toss lightly to coat. Add more dressing, only if needed (don’t over-saturate the greens). Mound the greens on salad plates and top with the warmed tomatoes, the remaining bacon and caramelized pecans. Serve immediately.
The caramelized pecans make a great snack, so you may want to make more!