Photos by 
Jessicarobyn Keyser
Jessicarobyn Keyser

This Spinach Salad Is, Believe It or Not, the Best Way to End a Road Trip

by 
Rachael Narins
June 29, 2021

It's only with the slightest hint of hyperbole that I say this is the best, most delicious, super tasty, absolutely perfect spinach salad ever. If we're going to keep making over-the-top statements it's also awesome, chic, as beautiful as a painting and life affirming. Try it and see. Oooh, wow, it's good. Spinach is fantastic!

I know, you're intrigued. Let me explain, and convince you. (As if that picture hasn't already.)

This salad, this pinnacle of greens, started with a cross-country(ish) road trip during college that included more junk than anyone should consume. We loaded up on low-cal drinks and then balanced that with every single snack food we could get our barely adult hands on. Water and candy and chips and questionable sandwiches all got thrown in a bag and put at the feet of the passenger for easy access. The healthiest food was maybe some grapes. If that. Our parents were never consulted.

We piled into a late-model station wagon to explore this great land, loaded up like we needed sugar to stay alive.  For a six day trip we spent a small fortune on treats. We also, for some reason, had two cans of tuna. No can opener, though. Just two lonely cans of tuna that took that journey with us. Sitting in silent judgement. I think I kept them for a few years just for the comedy.

The trip from San Francisco to Birmingham, Alabama is about 2,300 miles. We enthusiastically plotted our 30+ hour route, with plans to encounter and devour barbecue and pie and all the foods of the South. The world was out there and waiting. We would climb mountains and swim in lakes and meet cute boys and have an adventure.

We did, too. But we also made ourselves sick with longing for something green to eat. I mean, obviously. No one can live on candy alone. A kale smoothie would have been welcomed as heartily as birthday cake. It wasn't pretty. I think at one point we were on the verge of getting scurvy. (Ok, that isn't true, but it felt true.)

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And just as our bodies were about to actually turn into chocolate bars, like a mirage on the horizon, it was there, high up on a pole, shimmering in the hazy summer heat. A handmade sign that my addled brain was convinced said "Spinach Farm and Honky Tonk." It was a sign, indeed.

We laughed and hooted with joy, veering to the left then swerving to the right as we followed a sun-dappled road with no shoulder through the trees and around the bends until we arrived. Blood iron clearly low, we leapt forth. Spinach! YAY!

Except, they didn't have any spinach. They had hush puppies and waffles and beer in a can. They had shrimp and chicken fried steak, but no spinach. No lettuce. No carrots, not a green vegetable on the menu. The sign, upon further inspection, didn't even say spinach. It said "Spinnakers." My head had simply taken over and guided, with hope. When a girl wants spinach, a girl wants spinach.

Our little selves couldn't take it another minute. As fab as the food there must have been, we bolted out and headed to the nearest market. We loaded up on greens and bought some basic kitchen tools, then headed to the most expensive en-suite hotel we could find, with the simple mission to make a salad. The call of spinach was that strong. We blew our entire (very limited) lodging budget checking into that room with a kitchenette and in that moment, it was the best money we ever spent.

We set up the table on the balcony overlooking a beautiful lake and took a deep breath in, counting our blessings. In the ethereal twilight, each bite was a wholesome revelation. A balance of flavors. A bit of this a touch of that. A salad worthy of its own hymn. We were regaining balance.
That salad - this salad - was salvation. The beauty of course, is that moment in time can be repeated. This salad isn't just salad. It's glory and happiness and freedom and filling and wonderful and...did I mention hyperbole? Maybe, but you'll see. It's a winner.

Simple Spinach, Egg & Bacon Salad

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Serves 2 as an entrée, or 4 as a starter

Ingredients

For the Salad

1 5 oz. package of Fifth Season spinach

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 medium shallots, sliced into rounds

¼ cup finely chopped cooked bacon, bacon bits or coconut bacon

 

For the Dressing

3/4 cup olive oil

1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp coarse Dijon-style mustard

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

 | 
 | 
Serves 2 as an entrée, or 4 as a starter

Ingredients

For the Salad

1 5 oz. package of Fifth Season spinach

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 medium shallots, sliced into rounds

¼ cup finely chopped cooked bacon, bacon bits or coconut bacon

 

For the Dressing

3/4 cup olive oil

1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp coarse Dijon-style mustard

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients

For the Salad

1 5 oz. package of Fifth Season spinach

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 medium shallots, sliced into rounds

¼ cup finely chopped cooked bacon, bacon bits or coconut bacon

 

For the Dressing

3/4 cup olive oil

1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp coarse Dijon-style mustard

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Bring 4 cups of water to a gentle simmer and add the eggs. Raise the heat and boil for 6 minutes for runnier eggs, 8 for jammy, and remove, drain, run under cool water, crack, peel and set aside.

2. While the eggs are boiling, prepare to fry the shallots. Line a plate with paper towels. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. (Or, use the bacon fat from prepping the bacon, if you used a pan to fry it.) When the oil is hot, add the two sliced shallots and fry, stirring, until golden, about 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Turn off the heat. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the shallots to the paper towels, sprinkle with salt and let cool.

4. Turn off the heat under the skillet and add the additional chopped shallots.  Whisk in the vinegar, sugar and Dijon mustard. Season with a small pinch each of kosher salt and black pepper.  

5. Let the dressing cool while you slice the eggs into quarters, lengthwise.

6. To compose the salad, toss the spinach with half the dressing. Taste and add more as needed. Garnish with shallots, egg wedges and bacon/bacon bits or coconut bacon.

About the Author

Rachael Narins

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