The other night, my friend Samiami came over for dinner, and I was digging through my refrigerator trying to figure out what to make. Then I realized I had all the ingredients to make my most favoritest salad…ever. Spinach salad. The kind with the, as my sister calls it, ketchup dressing. It also worked out perfectly because Sam is a veggie-tarian, so all I had to do was leave the bacon off the top of her’s! Here it is, guys…doesn’t it look divine? It tastes about 50 times more amazing than it looks.
And it really is super easy to make. There really are four separate parts: chop up the veggies, cook the bacon (or if you are lazy and/or like the taste of plastic, shake a container of Bac-O’s on it), hard-boil and slice the egg, and make the dressing! But you can make the dressing ahead of time and keep it in a squeezy bottle in the fridge (that’s what I do), and a lot of people keep hard-boiled eggs in the fridge, so it doesn’t usually take very long to throw it together. The first part is getting the spinach together. I always wash it and rip off all the ends, because there isn’t anything I hate more in the world than spinach stems (well, except maybe super-loud mouth breathers and cigarette smokes). Anyway, rip off the ends and then I tear it into smaller pieces, and pat it dry.
The mushrooms are next! These are just the basic white mushrooms you get at the grocery store. I stopped buying the sliced ones because they always turned brown before I could eat them.
And then, obviously, tomatoes! My favorite food group. I’m actually not sure if there are tomatoes in traditional wilted spinach salad, but I always include tomatoes whenever possible. It is my humble opinion that tomatoes, like garlic, can improve just about any dish. (If you are thinking, Nuh uh, not ice cream, I beg to differ – I had ginger root ice cream with heirloom tomato sauce at The Red Door in Moscow, and agghhhh was it good, best ice cream I’ve ever had). Anyways. Chop the tomatoes. Also, I like salads because I never measure anything. Also, I somehow left my measuring cups and spoons at home (or else they got taken by someone I have lived with at some point in college) so I have no way to measure anything. So I just eyeball it.
The last part was some red onion. Technically, it was supposed to go in the dressing, but I put it in with the veggies. I’m so crazy like that. I also used a minimal amount of onion, because I generally like the flavor of them more than the actual taste.
Ok so you can set aside all of the vegetables. Now it’s time for the bacon! My dad says bacon can be added to just about everything to make it taste better. He even keeps bacon salt on the dining room table. (And now he will probably make me issue a denial tomorrow…sorry, Dad!) I rarely ever eat bacon, but for some reason I just happened to pick up a package the other day at the store. It was kismet! So I put some in a pan, and noticed something. Do you see it? No?
Umm, check out how white this bacon is. There isn’t even any bacon! It’s just fat! I literally had to cook it for forever just to get it crispy enough to cut into pieces. Note to self: next time, learn to buy lean bacon and not just the cheap package.
While the bacon was sizzling away, I…well actually, I had to run downstairs to let Sam into my parking garage (I sneak her in). Then I made her teach me how to hard-boil an egg. Because that was another thing I didn’t know how to do. Yup, I had never hard-boiled an egg before. We were only going to do two eggs, so it didn’t take too long.
Also, Sam forgot to tell me to put the eggs in the water before you start to boil the water. So when I dropped the first egg in…crrrrack. Whoops.
But I finally got two eggs in there, boiling away.
Then you put them in ice, Sam told me, so that the yolks don’t get that nasty greenish slime around the yolk.
Then Sam had to refill my ice cube tray because my lame ice maker doesn’t work.
This is just all so new to me! I never eat hard-boiled eggs, even at Easter when we used to dye them growing up, I just spent all the time dying them and never actually ate them. (But this was because my dad always made me eat the entire egg, and I hate hard-boiled egg yolks.)
And then just set aside the eggs.
Okay, now for the best part. I love love loooove this salad dressing. I usually keep it in the fridge, but since I had just bought vinegar, I had to make it from scratch. It also uses the most basic, basic ingredients: oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, and…ketchup. Yup, ketchup. My sister used to throw tantrums when my dad would make this while we were growing up – because it had “that ketchup sauce.” So my dad stopped telling us what was in the food he made. But it’s the best dressing – sweet, sour, and light!
Take some oil – it calls for “salad oil” in the traditional recipe, but I usually just use olive oil. Then you add in about a tablespoon or two of sugar, to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes, vinegar, and ketchup.
Then a fat, big squirt of ketchup! I think the recipe called for something like, a quarter of a cup? But I just put in what I thought looked about right. I’m all about precise measurements, folks.
Hey, you guys want to hear a joke about ketchup? My sister, when she was four years old, got onstage at her pre-school graduation and told this joke to an entire auditorium full of people, in her oversized t-shirt and little helium voice. “One day, a mommy tomato, a daddy tomato, and a baby tomato were walking home from school. The mommy tomato and the daddy tomato were walking too fast, so the baby tomato fell behind. The daddy tomato turned around, squished the baby tomato, and said, Ketchup.“ Ahhhhahhahahahaha. To this day, I think that is the funniest joke I’ve ever heard. What can I say, apparently our bizarre sense of humor runs in the family.
Anywayyy…next comes…the red wine vinegar. Shiver. I love vinegar. I think that my taste buds are changing on me, because about six months ago I started craving vinegar. I eat it on everything. Vegetables, fish, chicken, beef, fruit, salad, you name it, I’d try it. I’m obsessed. Anyway, it called for 1/8th of a cup of vinegar, but, like I said, I have no measuring cup, so I eyeballed it. I think Sam was a little scared of my “eyeballing” skills…but I sure showed her!
Give it a solid whisking – don’t want those sugar granuals to still be, well, grainy. Also, you have to mix the oil and vinegar together.
See how small my cooking space is? Aren’t you even more impressed by my culinary prowess?
Here’s what it looks like when you get done whisking:
Now you are basically done! All you have to do is put together all the ingredients! I just layered the spinach on the bottom, then mushrooms…
…then the tomatoes…
…then the onions. Then I just drizzled the dressing right on top!
Give it a good mixing, and spoon it into bowls. Then you arrange the sliced hard-boiled egg oh-so-artistically across the top, and (if you aren’t a vegetarian) give it a generous sprinkle of bacon across the top! Mmmmm. This is so, seriously, good. It’s my favorite salad in the world (even more so than the Gorgonzola wedge at Sangria, so that’s saying something). There are just so many flavors, and it is sweet, but not too sweet, salty from the bacon, fresh from the tomatoes and the spinach, and of course, the lovely sour bite from the ketchup and the vinegar. I’m so hungry just looking at this. I think I know what I’m having for lunch tomorrow…
P.S. Special thanks to Samiami for the hard-boiled egg tutorial! Love you girl!