Who else needs a salad after Thanksgiving besides me?
Ok good. I’m not the only one.
We spent Thanksgiving in Iowa with my family and had a grand time. It consisted of watching football, drinking pinot noir, playing with the puppies and kiddos, and of course eating until no end. I don’t think I was ever really “hungry” over the Thanksgiving holiday. I was consistently lightly full for 4 entire days and continued to eat anyway. I would not have survived without my stretchy pants…thank you, stretchy pants, for always being there for me.
Because the holiday left us a little, full, I decided to make a salad for dinner. It started out as a spinach salad with tart cherries, bacon, and walnuts with a balsamic vinaigrette, but that just didn’t seem that great. I’m sure it’s tasty, but I knew I could do better. I knew I
wanted needed spinach and tart cherries. I kind of forgot about dried cherries – they are sooooo good! Kind of expensive, but deliciously chewy and for some reason they are so wintery to me. Agree?
Anyway, after thinking it through, I decided to not only add bacon to the mix, but chicken, too, because I could envision Vin say “where’s the meat?” even though bacon is meat…
Then I wanted some onions, but Vin is not a huge raw onion type of guy so I took some shallots and fried them to make “crispy shallots.” Yes, I know this is supposed to be “healthy.”
So, in short ;), this became a Spinach salad with Cherries, Crispy Shallots, Bacon, Chicken, Roasted Asparagus and Asiago Cheese with Honey Mustard Dressing.
See? Zee ingredients. Imagine some shaved asiago in there…
Each ingredient needs some TLC; fry the bacon and then cook the chicken in the bacon fat. Just do it. Fry the shallots, roast the asparagus, and make the honey mustard dressing. Everything is easy, just takes a wee bit of time.
This looks like a bunch of worms frying…Sorry. But I thought it was important for you to visualize how to fry the shallots. This was my first time doing this and it was crazy easy. Just slice up the shallots, add them to a sauce pan with vegetable oil, then place over medium heat and let them sizzle until they start to turn golden brown. You can see some of them starting to get color. Watch carefully though, when some start to turn…they all start to turn veeeeery quickly. Kind of like the zombies in Walking Dead.
So is this salad “healthy?” Naaah, I’m not really sure about that, but it is a lighter option for a dinner meal. I wasn’t cranky full after eating it. What it is though, is incredibly flavorful and different. The crispy shallots and apple wood smoked bacon give it a smoky flavor, and the tart dried cherries add a nice sweet and chewy aspect to the salad. The asparagus helps balance all the meat and smoky flavors and adds a nice slightly bitter bite. And honey mustard dressing? It’s just good. On everything.
The spinach is healthy…
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- 6 slices apple wood smoked bacon, fried
- 1 bunch purple asparagus trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 chicken breasts, seasoned with pepper
- Dried tart cherries
- 1 container baby spinach
- Shaved asiago cheese
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ⅛ cup olive oil plus more for roasted asparagus
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- splash of red wine vinegar
- pinch of black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Add asparagus to the baking sheet and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast for 15 minutes. Take out and let cool.
- While asparagus is roasting, cook the bacon and chicken. I first cooked the bacon, placed on a paper towel to drain, and then cooked the chicken breasts in the bacon fat.
- To make the crispy shallots add the vegetable oil to a small pot. Add shallots and place over medium heat. Let fry for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Shallots should gradually turn golden brown. If they start to darken quickly, turn down the heat. Once golden, remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.
- To make the honey mustard dressing, add all of the ingredients to a bowl and whisk.
- Assemble salad and dress with honey mustard dressing.