Apr 14, 2011

Insalata di Spinaci recipe

The Italian word for vegetables verdura, is an inaccurate term which poetically translates to 'greendom.' The farmers' markets these days are in fact a colorful feast for the eyes and imagination. The palette offered by the spilling stalls features tender mauve artichokes, Ferrari-red tomatoes of every size and shape, curly, spiked and ruffled field sprouts, pearly spring onions, opulent purple eggplants and lush Jamaican flag bell peppers.

With the heat of the season and colorful abundance offered by the markets, I find myself consuming ridiculous quantities of fresh green verdura. The salad I'll be making today is a rich and tasty Insalata di Spinaci, a warm spinach salad: the 80's in a salad bowl.

The heated pancetta drippings wilt the fresh spinach leaves, and along with the crumbled hard-boiled egg, provide a subtle diversity of flavors and textures.

Here's what you need for 4 eaters:

10-12 oz triple rinsed baby spinach leaves, stems removed
50 g (1/4 cup) minced red onion
2 soft-boiled eggs, 1 chopped, 1 sliced
5 strips of pancetta
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. white vinegar
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. water
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Place the dry spinach leaves in a large bowl, add the chopped onions and refrigerate, tightly covered.

Fry the pancetta until crisp. Save the drippings, but remove the strips to a paper towel and set aside. In a small jar or measuring cup combine the pancetta drippings with sugar, vinegar, water, salt and pepper, and give it a good shake. Refrigerate all ingredients until just before serving.

When ready to serve, microwave the dressing on 'high' for 30-45 seconds, or until the mixture boils. Toss the chopped egg with the spinach, then pour the hot dressing over everything; tossing again lightly to coat well. Top with sliced egg and crumbled bacon.

Image © kids vs produce


  1. yum - i am watching my tiny spinach just coming out of the ground from seed, can't wait!!!

  2. Ah, just the way I like it! I'm jealous of all that variety this time of the year!

  3. Ah, just the way I like it! I'm jealous of all that variety this time of the year!

  4. mmm...love a good spinach salad...this sounds great

  5. Sounds delicious and lovely photograph.

  6. Oh. Yum. I'm a *big* fan of anything that involves greenery and pancetta. I'd have to do the dressing the old-fashioned way on the hob, as I am without microwave in my rented Italian flat, but I think it's probably worth the little bit of extra time for something so delicious ...

  7. Yum! this looks delicious! I do love spinach salads and this looks like a great new recipe! Wonderful photography!

  8. Can never have too much of this. I will need to wait until June to see such splendid markets.

  9. I love fresh spinach and often eat it daily for weeks on end. I eat it as a salad, in a sandwich, tossed with hot pasta. This is one more way to love it.

  10. Oh, so healthy and spring light!
    Like the pancetta!!
    Spring is in the air....

  11. Ciao Eleonora,
    Great timing! I have a load of fresh spinach that the tour guide brought home yesterday. Was planning a spinach risotto, but wasn't sure what to do with the rest. This sounds fantastic for lunch! Thanks for sharing!
    Ci vediamo presto!!!!

  12. EcoGrrl~
    Oh how lucky you are to harvest your own produce!

    How's your vegetable garden coming along?

    Kids might like it too thanks to our friend bacon.

    Thanks cara.

    I ONLY cook on the hob, and only use the microwave to thaw frozen foods!

    Thank you and welcome to my little kitchen.

    June is just around the corner! Smiles.

    Yes! You gave me an idea for picnic sandwiches tomorrow: spinach and turkey wraps!! Brava, thank you.

    You and I think alike!

    Siiii, I can't wait. Glad this inspired lunch for you. Baci xx

  13. Eleonora: me too, even in London where I do have a microwave. I made that comment because you recommend microwaving the dressing in your recipe, but I'm glad to hear that you don't in actuality. ;) Microwaves are so damn soulless. There's nothing better than getting into the kitchen and heating, stirring, mixing and tasting. Above all, the *smells* that come from food cooked on the hob are so much better. Microwaves just can't compete.

  14. Katja~
    They're indeed soulless, but good for thawing, warming sauces and coffee...
    The best way for me to unwind still remains stovetop puttering! my house is small, and always smells delicious with simmering garlic, sizzling onions, melting butter, frying bacon, baking bread... the list goes on and on and on and on.....

  15. Fresh vegetables? We had snow Friday night! It was 40 F (4 C) here today! Arrgggh! I am very much dreaming of Rome: One more day until I depart!

    Have a good vacation and I look forward to meeting up next week. I am bringing something that you will appreciate, I think. What only grows in Minnesota?

  16. Jeff~
    Icicles? Handsome Scandinavian men? I give up.
    Looking forward to meeting you next week too! In the meantime, Buona Pasqua!!

  17. Greens, count me in!! That is a lovely salad...

  18. I LOVE baby spinach, this looks delicious!

  19. when do we get to cook together! x G

  20. That looks great. Brown sugar, you say? I must give it a shot. Thanks!