I just returned from my nine-hour-each-way road trip to North Dakota. I do my best to eat healthy when I travel, but sometimes I end up failing miserably. This trip I had a hard time saying no to the most delicious bacon cheeseburger in the universe– again. And it went downhill from there. Now I’m making up for my gluttony by trying to eat my weight in vegetables, and today’s post is a good start.
I’ve been craving a crisp spinach salad for awhile now. Not the pre-packaged spinach that has “bag smell”, but fresh garden spinach that you can find at almost every farmers’ market. I’m talking about the kind that is curly, has loads of wrinkles, and personality. And although tomatoes aren’t quite in-season here in Minnesota, I knew I could get a few greenhouse-grown beauties. Along with the veggies, I wanted a few crunchy bacon crumbles– not much, just a enough to add a nice saltiness. Since I was thinking about a salad that could serve as a complete meal, I mixed in a whole grain. You’ve probably noticed that I do this a lot with my salads. This one and this one are two earlier favorites. This time around, I chose farro. It comes from the wheat family and has a nice, toothsome bite. Finally, I wanted to bring it all these fresh ingredients together with a creamy gorgonzola dressing.
I know there are a many of you that purchase bottles of salad dressing from the grocery store. My goal for today is to convince you to start making your own for every salad. It’s easy, and tastes amazing. No preservatives, and you know exactly what is going into your dressing. Plus, you can play around with the ingredients. Switch out the gorgonzola for blue cheese. If you have extra yogurt on hand, use that instead of the buttermilk. Just give it a try. I’m guessing you’ll like it enough that you won’t buy bottles again. This particular dressing is simple and beautiful.
One last note about Spring spinach. You’ll need to clean it thoroughly– more than just a spray of water and throwing it in the salad spinner. Instead, soak it in a large bowl of cold water for a minute or so to allow the dirt to settle to the bottom. You don’t want to ruin this beautiful salad by biting into a fresh green leaf that still has dirt hidden in one of the folds. Enjoy!
The Recipe: Spinach, Farro, and Bacon Salad with Gorgonzola Dressing
1 large bunch fresh spinach
small bite-sized tomatoes
8 ounces bacon, cooked
handful of homemade croutons
1/2 cup farro, cooked
4 ounces (1/4 pound) gorgonzola cheese
1/2 cup buttermilk
sea salt and cracked black pepper
To start, rinse the farro in a mesh strainer. Place the farro in a small saucepan and cover with water by about an inch. Bring water to a boil, then reduce to a small/medium simmer. When the farro is tender, but still has a toothsome bite to it, remove from the heat — about 15-20 minutes. Pour into a strainer and let cool.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare the homemade croutons by cubing about 1/4 of a fresh or day old baguette. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with a bit of olive oil (about 2 teaspoons) and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Place in the oven and toast for about 10-15 minutes, stirring a couple of times. They are done when they are golden brown and have a nice crunch to them.
Prepare the dressing by placing the gorgonzola cheese in a medium-sized bowl. Add the buttermilk. Mash with a fork until it is mostly incorporated. Be careful to leave some small chunks of cheese, as it adds to the texture of the dressing. Add a squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
Fill a large bowl with cold water. Place the spinach in the bowl and swish it around a bit, then leave it alone. All the of the dirt will sink to the bottom. Gently remove the spinach and place in a salad spinner. Give it another rinse with running water and then spin it dry.
In a large salad bowl, place the spinach, tomatoes, farro, and bacon. Pour some of the dressing on it. Toss and top with croutons. Enjoy!
Thanks for stopping by Relishing It — have a lovely day!