I used to make a spinach salad all the time that had crumbled gorgonzola in it, where you poured a warm bacon dressing over the top. It’s really beyond fantastic, but it also presents 2 problems, the first of which is that so many people don’t like blue cheese of any kind.
And secondly, it can be really difficult to find a good quality gorgonzola depending on where you live. Since that spinach salad really isn’t worth making with a second rate cheese, (bad blue cheese is why so many people don’t like it in my opinion). I decided to recreate something along the same lines, but without the problematic gorgonzola.
However I just wanted to mention if blue cheese is your thing, you can add gorgonzola crumbles to this salad, (just look for gorgonzola dolce for the best results). But in any case whether you love or hate blue cheese, you’re going to love this spinach salad with so much flavor going on. It’s also extra festive and great for entertaining. You can even prep the dressing ahead, then rewarm it right before serving the salad.
With mandarin oranges, pomegranates, and a bacon balsamic dressing – this salad really has it all going on. It works really great as a side, but since we’re really into easy meals, we sometimes add some grilled chicken to make it a full scale dinner.
We grill year round here, even when the temperature is -20ºF because we just love grilling. But this Easy Herb Roasted Chicken is a nice option as well if you don’t fancy freezing outside for some grilled chicken.
In case you’re a bit skeptical about warm salad dressings, rest assured that they’re pretty much revolutionary. They’re also really nice in the winter months when you’re craving comfort foods. The warm dressings take the chilly edge off salads, but they also don’t completely wilt them either.
If you’re looking for a nice presentation for entertaining, thinly slicing the mandarin oranges to layer over the top is a nice look. But I have to say it’s much easier to eat if they’re cut up into bite sized pieces that’s for sure!Print
The perfect salad for entertaining all winter long, and no one can ever refuse the warm bacon dressing!
6 cups washed baby spinach, 6 ounces
8 mandarin oranges, peeled and thinly sliced or diced, 1 pound
1 cup pomegranate arils, see notes
3/4 cup toasted pecan pieces
Warm Bacon Dressing:
4 slices bacon, 4 ounces, see notes
1/2 Teaspoon Italian seasoning, with no additives, salt, or sugar
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 Teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1/4 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 Tablespoons olive oil
Optional: crumbled gorgonzola, feta, or goat cheese, I add 1/2 cup crumbled cheese of choice when I add cheese to this salad, (omit for Whole30, paleo, and dairy free).
Place all the ingredients for the salad into a large serving bowl.
Cut the bacon strips in half lengthwise, then thinly slice them crosswise into bacon bit sized pieces, 1/4″.
Heat a cast iron skillet, (I used a 9″) over medium heat. When the pan is hot but not smoking, add the bacon to the pan and sauté until browned and the fat has rendered, about 3-5 minutes.
Turn off the heat and add the Italian seasoning, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, sea salt to taste, black pepper, and olive oil. Whisk to completely combine and then pour the dressing over the salad. Toss to combine and serve immediately.
For a nice presentation, you can keep back some of the mandarin oranges and pomegranate arils to sprinkle over the top.
I have a great method for removing pomegranate arils from their shells that’s so much easier than anything else I’ve ever tried over on Pomegranates 101!
Make sure your bacon doesn’t have any additives or sugar to keep this recipe Whole30.
Keywords: Salad, Whole30, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo, Bacon