Sunday, January 22, 2012

Spinach Salad and Beer Bread

John had a limited vegetable pallet when I first met him.  Nonetheless, he was raised right by his mom, because he always ate whatever I served on his plate when he came over for dinner during our early dating days.  His face was a bit apprehensive, however, when I laid down a large bowl of my favorite spinach salad one night as our main dish.

Spinach Salad

"Just try it," I said.  "It's the same salad they serve at this restaurant where my parents used to go for all their big celebrations. (The Red Geranium in New Harmony, IN)  It's really good!  It's one of my mom's best recipes!"

Lucky for me, he was enticed by the bacon on top.  And he was hungry.  And he had nothing to eat back at his own apartment.  Plus, what's not to like about a salad with fresh cooked, real bacon on top?

Well, he tried it, and fell instantly in love with the combination of tender spinach, salty bacon, and the sweet and tangy tomato dressing.  Now when people ask him what his favorite vegetable is, he almost always says "Jill's spinach salad".

There is nothing too tricky about this salad.  The dressing has to be made in a blender, however.  I have not had good luck getting it to come together the way it should any other way.  One recipe makes enough to use for at least one bag of spinach or maybe even two.  The thick dressing has a rich and tangy flavor, so it doesn't take too much drizzled over the top to make it a yummy salad.  Sometimes I'll make a batch when I'm in the mood for the salad and then just pick up the spinach and bacon on my next trip to the store. 

We like to enjoy this hearty salad as a light dinner, or sometimes I'll fix a smaller version to go with our main dish.  Tonight we enjoyed the salad with fresh hot slices of homemade beer bread and cantaloupe.  This simple, summer-type meal was the perfect reminder on this damp day that warm, summer weather will return before too long. 

Here's the recipe for the dressing:

Red Geranium Spinach Salad Dressing
1 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup vinegar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until all the sugar crystals are dissolved. 

Store in the refrigerator and shake well before serving over a bed of spinach topped with chopped bacon and diced hard cooked eggs.  You can also add fresh mushrooms and croutons, but we like it with just the spinach, bacon, and eggs.

tender spinach, salty bacon, hard cooked eggs, sweet and tangy dressing
This is the salad that will turn even the pickiest eater into liking spinach!

When John and I lived in Madison, Wisconsin, we loved visiting the enormous farmers' market held in the Capitol Square downtown.  One of our favorite purchases was a loaf a homemade beer bread.  We've never found another bread that tasted as good as that baker's, but this one is pretty good.  It is a dense bread with a crunchy outside.  Slice it thick and slather on a little butter.  The 11 year old loves to have a piece leftover for breakfast, lightly toasted.

Homemade Beer Bread
Homemade Beer Bread                                               
3 cups white whole wheat flour
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 bottle of beer (12 oz)    (I used Bud Light)

1.  Preheat oven to 350.
2.  In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
3.  Pour in the beer over the top.
4.  Stir until all the ingredients are moistened.  (the batter will be really thick and stiff)
5.  Spread into a greased loaf pan.
6.  Bake for 50-55 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

How do you like to eat your spinach?


  1. This sounds like a french dressing...yum. I think I will try this salad without the eggs and substitute blue cheese crumbles. (Patrick is not fond of hard boiled eggs.)

  2. Is this beer bread similar to Tastfully Simple Beer bread? My hubby loves that stuff!!!

    1. The beer bread is more similar to the Tastefully Simple Beer Bread than the loaf of beer bread we used to get in Wisconsin. It's been awhile since I've had a loaf from Tastefully Simple but the texture and the hint of sweetness if definitely the same. . . and much cheaper!