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Wilted Spinach and Shrimp Salad with Bacon-Pecan Vinaigrette

Serves 4

From America's Test Kitchen's the complete SALAD cookbook

Why this recipe works A warm bacon vinaigrette is a classic complement to a wilted spinach salad, but achieving perfection was a careful balancing act. We wanted the spinach leaves (here, tender baby spinach) to be just gently softened by the warm vinaigrette. Too much or too-hot dressing, and the spinach ended up overly wilted and lifeless. Too little or too-cool dressing, and the spinach stayed chewy, raw, and less pleasant to eat. We found that the trick for ensuring a properly wilted salad was to have everything at the ready-tongs and all-before we began and then to toss the spinach and crisp endive and serve the salad the moment the vinaigrette was at the right temperature. We used juicy shrimp and a particularly sweet, fragrant, and crisp apple variety to emphasize and offset the bacon-pecan dressing's smoky, salty, nutty richness.

Ingredients

  • 2 heads Belgian endive (8 ounces), halved, cored, and cut into ½-inch strips
  • 10 ounces (10 cups) baby spinach
  • 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups Sauteed Shrimp (see recipe below)*
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 slices bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ cup pecans or walnuts, chopped coarse
  • 1 Fuji or Honeycrisp apple, halved, cored, and sliced thin

1. Place endive in large bowl along with spinach. Whisk vinegar, mustard, sugar, and salt together in separate bowl. Measure out 2 tablespoons vinegar mixture and set aside in medium bowl. Add shallot to remaining vinegar mixture; cover; and microwave until steaming, 30 to 60 seconds. Stir briefly to submerge shallot; uncover and set aside to cool.

2. Transfer shrimp to bowl with reserved 2 tablespoons vinegar mixture and cover to keep warm.

3. Cook bacon and pecans in now-empty skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until bacon is crispy and fat is well rendered, 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Off heat, whisk shallot mixture into skillet until combined. Pour warm vinaigrette over spinach and endive and toss until spinach is wilted slightly. Add apple and gently toss to combine. Divide salad among individual serving plates. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, topping individual portions with shrimp.

Recipe and photo courtesy of America's Test Kitchen

August 2021


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