I love spinach. Not only is spinach good for you, full of nutrients and antioxidants but it is great in so many recipes. No wonder why Popeye loved to eat it.
I often saute spinach until it is nice and wilted and then sprinkle it with ground nutmeg and fresh Paremsan. Just a bowl of that is satisfying to me. It is delicious just that way alone or even topped on chicken. Another way to incorporate spinach into your diet is in a green smoothie. One of my favorites is my Peach Green Smoothie that is made with frozen peaches and coconut milk. You can even substitute spinach in my Penne with Swiss Chard and Ricotta pasta dish if you can not find Swiss Chard. There are so many ways to enjoy spinach.
My favorite way to eat spinach is fresh in a salad. I love spinach salads. I even featured a classic Spinach Salad in the Holiday Thyme cookbook. They are perfect for entertaining, and with Valentine’s Day coming up if you are staying in for a romantic date night opposed to heading out for dinner, this would be an excellent salad to add to the menu. It features a fresh bed of spinach topped with crispy pancetta, oven roasted grapes, slivered almonds, chopped dates and shaved Parmesan topped with a warm balsamic dressing.
I could eat this salad everyday.
It is simple, elegant, sophisticated and delicious. What more could you ask for in a salad?
- 1 pound red, seedless grapes removed from stems
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- ⅛ teaspoon dried basil
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 9 ounce bag spinach, washed
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- ¼ cup chopped dates
- ¼ cup freshly shaved Parmesan cheese
- 2 ounces diced pancetta
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- Reserved juices from roasted grapes, about 2½ tablespoons
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Toss grapes in a medium bowl with olive oil, ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar, basil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place in a single layer on a medium baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes until roasted. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Strain any pan drippings into a small bowl and reserve for dressing. Set grapes aside.
- In a large salad bowl or in individual serving bowls toss togther spinach, almonds and dates.
- Cook panetta in a medium skillet over medium heat until crispy. Remove pancetta from skillet and set on a paper towel lined plate or bowl to remove any excess grease then add pancetta to salad. Remove any excess grease from skillet.
- Add extra virgin olive oil to the skillet the pancetta was cooked in until heated through. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds longer. Stir in reserved roasted grape pan drippings and balsamic vinegar and cook for 1-2 minutes longer until dressing slightly thickens. Remove from heat and ladle over salads or into a serving bowl. Top salad with shaved Parmesan cheese and serve with warm dressing.