serves: Serves 4
As a child, I had salads in the winter that Nonna Rosa would dress with the flavorful fat rendered from pancetta or prosciutto scraps and a splash of homemade vinegar. The greens were always the tougher winter kinds, like chicory or escarole, and sometimes she even added slices of boiled potatoes, still warm. So, when I had my first spinach salad in America dressed with warm bacon pieces, I assumed my grandma’s salad made with spinach was the American/Italian way.
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups sliced button mushrooms
9 ounce bag of fresh baby spinach
¼ cup white-wine vinegar
¼ cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon, cook until crisp, then drain on paper towels. Pour all but 2 tablespoons of the fat out of the pan. Toss in the mushroom, and cook just until wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Combine the mushrooms and bacon in a large serving bowl, and scatter the baby spinach on top.
Set the skillet over high heat. Pour the vinegar into the pan and bring just to a boil, then remove from heat and pour over salad. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Toss, and serve immediately.