Over the course of the summer, I typically receive five or six phone calls from friends inquiring about my well-being. Their voices fraught with concern, they ask, “How are you doing in this heat, Dara? You’re drinking lots of water, right?” After years of watching me practically melt in the summertime heat, they know better than to ask me to go for a walk in the midday sun or sit at the sunny table on a restaurant patio. I mean, really, what is a gal from Canada, used to the temperate climate of Vancouver, doing in a place where the temperatures climb above 100 degrees F? Well, let’s just say that I spend a good portion of the summer either standing over an air-conditioning vent or submerged in a pool.
Considering my dislike for extreme temperatures, I do everything in my power to avoid turning on the oven during the summer. Light, easy meals that don’t require a lot of exertion to make (I really am pathetic, aren’t I?) appear on the table regularly. So, when I saw this chicken spinach salad by CarolinaHeartStrings, I knew it would become a favorite. Who can resist a fresh salad packed with tasty ingredients such as chicken, olives and artichokes, particularly when it is topped with a warm dressing that contains bacon?
Let’s start this recipe off on a very good foot, shall we? Now, the recipe calls for bacon bits, which I took to mean frying up some bacon so there’s enough for the salad and an extra piece for eating. I had to keep my energy up while snapping pictures, you know.
For the rest of the dressing, in a medium frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium- low heat. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes to soften.
Add the brown sugar…
… balsamic vinegar, crumbled bacon and reserved liquid from the can of artichokes. Simmer gently for about 15 minutes. The aroma will make you salivate.
For the rest of the salad, you will need spinach, chopped cooked chicken breast, canned artichoke hearts, black olives and feta cheese. My kids were too busy fighting over the can of black olives, so they didn’t make it into the photo.
Divide the spinach leaves evenly between 4 plates and top with equal portions of the chicken, artichokes, black olives and feta cheese.
Spoon the warm dressing over the salads.
Serve and enjoy, preferably while sitting in a nice shady spot or beside an air-conditioning vent.
Thank you to Alessa and Tammi for this easy salad that we will be making again and again throughout the summer. Be sure to check out their blog Carolina Heartstrings for other great recipes and tales of their everyday lives.
I have always loved the spinach salads served in restaurants with a warm bacon dressing. This is my version of what I’d order if I could have it made my way.
- FOR THE DRESSING:
- 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- ¼ cups Onion, Minced
- 2 whole Large Garlic Cloves, Minced
- 4 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
- 3 Tablespoons Real Bacon Bits
- The Reserved Liquid From The Artichokes
- FOR THE SALAD:
- 1 bag (12 Oz. Size) Baby Spinach Leaves
- 4 whole Cooked Chicken Breasts, Cubed
- 1 cup Whole Pitted Black Olives
- 4 ounces, fluid Feta Cheese, Crumbled
- 1 jar (14 Oz. Size) Artichokes, Drained, Reserve Liquid For Dressing
1. For the dressing, gently heat the oil and add the onion and garlic. Cook 5–6 minutes.
2. Add the remaining dressing ingredients and cook gently for 15 minutes.
3. Divide spinach between 4 plates and top with equal portions of all toppings (cut artichokes into topping size if neccessary).
4. Spoon warm dressing over salads.
Dara Michalski is a doll and a sweetheart who clearly knows her way around the kitchen. She blogs at Cookin’ Canuck, where she shares her flavor-packed recipes and fun, engaging writing. The photography’s pretty incredible, too.