Wilted Spinach Salad with Pancetta Lardons and Warm Vinaigrette
Our version of the classic warm spinach salad features a delicious combination of flavors and textures: sweet-tart dried fruit, crunchy toasted almonds and bits of savory pancetta.
- 1/2 lb. pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- Vegetable oil as needed
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 Tbs. finely chopped shallot
- 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 10 oz. spinach
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 1/4 cup dried Turkish apricots, julienned
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
- Shaved ricotta salata cheese for serving
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp and the fat has rendered, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate. Carefully pour the rendered fat through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof measuring cup; discard the solids.
Add enough vegetable oil to the pancetta fat to equal 1/2 cup. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, shallot, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and mustard. While whisking, slowly add the pancetta fat in a slow, steady stream until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. If the vinaigrette is cool, heat in a microwave at 30-second increments until warm.
In a large bowl, combine the spinach and half each of the almonds, apricots, cranberries, onion and pancetta. Drizzle with about 2 Tbs. of the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Transfer to a platter. Garnish with the remaining almonds, apricots, cranberries, onion and pancetta. Drizzle about 2 Tbs. of the vinaigrette on top and garnish with the cheese. Serve immediately and pass the remaining vinaigrette at the table. Serves 6 to 8.