I had an amazing warm (slightly wilted) spinach salad at Table and Main last week with roasted squash, soft cow’s milk cheese from Sweet Grass Dairy (somewhat local – Thomasville, GA) and bacon vinaigrette. I am usually not a salad person, but this one blew me away; the complexities of the flavors and the varied textures easily exceeded my expectations, so why not try to re-create it at home with a few twists. For the record, I did not obtain this recipe from the restaurant; I simply determined the flavors from my experience and what was listed on the menu.
Serves 3 – 4
1 16 oz package of baby spinach, rinsed and dried
3 zucchini, chopped – 1 inch dice
3 yellow squash, chopped – 1 inch dice
1 small red onion
4 oz soft cow’s milk cheese
1 cup basic vinaigrette
2 pieces of thick cut bacon
1 smoked trotter
S&P to taste
Start by making the vinaigrette so it can sit overnight and absorb more of the bacon flavor. Trim about ¼ cup of the meat off of the trotter (pig’s foot for the layman) and combine it in a pan with 1 tbsp of EVOO and the bacon; cook until crispy and add to the premade vinaigrette.
Pre heat the oven to 350; sprinkle the squash and zucchini with S&P to taste and drizzle a little olive oil over the pieces; cook for 25 – 30 minutes, or until tender. You can also find miniature squash that works really well, but I’ve only seen it at Fresh Market, and you will pay a premium for it, so I mainly stick with cutting it myself, unless you just really want to be fancy…
Next shave the red onion as thin as possible; a mandolin works best, but a sharp chef’s knife will also do the trick. Be sure and chop the shavings and only use a few small pieces, as it will over power the salad if added in excess.
Last but least, it’s time to prep the cheese. If you can find the cheese referenced above, it’s called Little Moo, definitely use that as it has a nice mild flavor. I ended up using the Green Hill from Sweet Grass Dairy since I didn’t order the Moo in time! It was a little richer and more buttery, but worked great as well. As you will see below, I warmed the cheese in the microwave for 5 seconds to loosen it up.
Before assembling the salad, warm the vinaigrette in a sauce pan for a few minutes, but do not burn it or let it get too hot, as you only want the spinach to wilt a little bit. Combine all the ingredients in individual bowls and top with one tbsp of the vinaigrette.