Warm Spinach Salad with Pancetta Dressing

salad
The salad was lights out — literally, because I took this subpar picture during a blackout.

Attention all Saved by the Bell fans: Kelly Kapowski moonlights as a mean master chef. I have to admit, when I first heard of Dinner at Tiffani’s, I rolled my eyes and thought “oh god, not another celebrity chef.” We’ve all seen/heard of the amusing disaster that is Cooking with Kylie (don’t try the candied yams, I can’t trust a girl that uses Aunt Jemima), and frankly, Jenner should probably just stick to her lip kits. Tiffani Amber Thiessen, on the other hand, is a surprisingly fresh breath of air on the Cooking Channel. Her show is down-to-earth and entertaining. The recipes are delicious and not too fussy, and her charming dinner guests add even more spark to the production. We’ve cycled through many Thiessen recipes in the Hallinan household, but one of my favorites by far is her spinach salad — and this is coming from a girl who’d pick a burger over leafy greens any day. However, the savory crisps of pancetta and earthy mushrooms in this salad leave no room for dissatisfaction. I slightly altered this recipe to add more pine nuts (hey, I am Italian after all), but otherwise, Kelly Kapowski knocked this one out of the park. Belding would be so proud.

Original recipe and photo source can be found here.

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces fresh baby spinach, stems removed
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, cut into 1 1/2-inch strips
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup lightly toasted pine nuts

Directions:

Combine the spinach and red onions in a large bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Add the mushrooms and salt to taste, and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until they start to release their moisture and begin to shrink, 2 to 3 minutes. Now let the mushrooms cook undisturbed until their liquid evaporates and they have turned deep golden brown on one side, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir and continue cooking until nicely browned on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes more. With a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms from the pan and toss with the spinach and onions.

In a separate, heavy-bottomed saucepan, cook the pancetta over medium-low heat until dark and crispy, about 15 minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and reserve.

To the rendered fat in the pan, add the vinegar, honey and mustard. Bring to a boil and whisk to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste and then pour the warm dressing over the spinach, mushrooms and onions. Add the reserved pancetta and toss to distribute the heat and dressing.

Serve in a salad bowl, garnished with pine nuts.

Bon Appetit!

Bridget

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