Before I became obsessed with food I used to wrinkle my nose up at things that sounded, well, gross. Like salad dressing made with bacon fat. I LOVE bacon and not because it’s super trendy right now. I don’t think I’ll ever have a bacon martini. That’s gross. (I am wrinkling my nose as I type.)

Many, many, many years ago I went to lunch with a friend who ordered a spinach salad. This salad was served with a hot bacon dressing. First ewww….”hot” dressing on a salad. What were they thinking??? Second ewww….it was made with bacon grease…which they politely called bacon drippings….so you didn’t think you were actually eating something that could clog your arteries while looking at it.

I think this salad was a turning point for me. My friend was on to something and I was just being bratty. One bite changed my mind….the hot dressing wilted the spinach slightly and the bacon flavor just made everything taste so sinful. It was a revelation.

I’ve recreated this dressing many times over the many, many, many years but this weekend I added maple syrup because it just seemed like the right thing to do. I always put maple syrup on my bacon in the morning so why not mix a little with the “drippings”. If you don’t currently do this (put syrup on your savory breakfast meat) I suggest trying it right now….and put it on your breakfast sausage, ham, pork roll. Try it, call me and tell me how right I am. Mmmmkay?

Pear and Spinach Salad

This salad is super simple just be sure to toast the pine nuts and don’t burn them. They will go from perfectly golden and crunchy to black and bitter in seconds. You won’t even know how it happened. It’s a crazy phenomenon. But definitely don’t skip the “toast the pine nuts” step.

Oh…and just in case you feel the urge to let me know….I’m aware this is not the healthiest salad. But it is freaking amazing!

Pear Spinach Salad

Pear, Goat Cheese and Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Maple Dressing

Serves 2

6 strips center cut bacon (I used Oscar Mayer Center Cut)

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

salt and pepper

1/4 cup pine nuts

4 cups fresh baby spinach, washed and dried

1 large pear, thinly sliced

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

4 ounces soft goat cheese

Preheat oven to 425.

On a baking sheet lined with parchment or foil, bake the bacon for approximately 15 minutes or until crisp. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain and pour the bacon drippings into a bowl. Set aside.

In a small saute pan, toast the pine nuts over med-high heat until golden and toasted. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of bacon drippings, apple cider vinegar and maple syrup until thoroughly combined. Salt and pepper to taste. (The dressing will separate quickly so you will want to whisk again before plating. If the dressing starts to cool you can reheat it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to warm it up.)

Divide the spinach between two plates. Top the spinach with the red onion, pear, goat cheese and pine nuts. Crumble two slices of bacon and sprinkle over the salad. Spoon the dressing over the salad and serve.

You will have leftover dressing (and bacon, possibly), store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Heat in the microwave for 15-20 seconds and whisk before serving.

Pear and Spinach Salad