Lessons from a Spinach Salad

30 Nov
by Deanne

With a beautiful bowlful of spinach sitting in the fridge, I decided to try making a spinach salad with warm bacon dressing. If you love bacon like I do, you’ll agree this is an excellent way to eat your spinach.

The recipe that looked the most interesting is from The Pioneer Woman. The recipe appealed to me because the onions and mushrooms were cooked rather than served raw as they are in most recipes for this salad. I also appreciated the step by step pictures Ree, the Pioneer Woman, took while she was preparing the dressing and salad.

I read the recipe a few times, gathered up my ingredients and put the bacon in a small frying pan to start cooking. It wasn’t long before I noticed the bacon had burned while I was cutting the mushrooms and onions. :( (But I would not be defeated!)

I discarded the bacon and started over. My son came into the kitchen and told me that I needed to cook the bacon on medium heat. (Silly me, I had the heat too high and the bacon burned because I wasn’t watching it.) I remembered his advice when it was time to cook the onions.  I cooked them gently over medium heat and they caramelized very nicely, so nicely that my chef husband complimented me. Before I knew it, I was munching on a lovely bacon-y salad.A photo of the salad

While eating my salad I pondered, “What lessons have I learned that can help me in my future cooking adventures?” I reflected on 2 lessons that apply to cooking in general not just to preparing spinach salads.

1.   Cook at the appropriate temperature…not too high and not too low.

Starting with the burner on high is a bad habit that started when I began cooking as a teenager. I did it then because I was impatient and didn’t really care that much about the food or ingredients.

Now, I know I can preheat the pan and adjust as I go. Also it’s important to cook at medium to medium-high heat when using non-stick cookware. And now I’m more careful with my ingredients because I don’t want to be wasteful.

2.   Start again, if a misstep will affect the overall taste of the dish.

This is a habit I picked up as a young wife—I would just keep going if I made a mistake in the cooking process. I suppose I didn’t want to throw out food because of the cost/ waste or admit that I’d made a mistake (because I wanted to be a perfect wife…who cooked perfectly all the time).  Unfortunately this led to sorry tasting dishes and a bad attitude about my cooking abilities.

Back then, if had taken the time to start over a few times, I would have felt success instead of failure. This time, because I truly wanted to learn (which involves learning from one’s mistakes), I discarded the burnt bacon and started over, cooking it to crispy perfection. Here is an encouraging tip that shows me others have made the same mistake.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Reviewing The (39) Most Common Cooking Mistakes on Cooking Light gives me hope. I did do a few things right when I was making my spinach salad—I carefully caramelized the onions rather than trying to speed up the process and I read the recipe all the way through before I began.

I look forward to my next cooking adventure, even if there are a few mistakes along the way. I feel a bit more competent because the salad tasted great and satisfied my craving for warm bacon dressing.

Are there any bad habits you’ve had to overcome as you’ve learned something new?

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12 Responses to “Lessons from a Spinach Salad”

  1. Debra Jones November 30, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

    I am enjoying all the cooking ideas & recipes, but this last one with a link to the Cooking Light most common cooking mistakes was great. I really needed those tips! I am also enjoying being able to see Luke & Francine my second cousins!

    • realocalcooking December 1, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

      I am glad you are following along. We have more great posts coming. Luke will be making a new cooking episode soon.

  2. Julie November 30, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    My biggest mistake is always not reading the recipe right!

    • realocalcooking December 1, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

      That is number 2 on the common mistake list for a reason I guess.

  3. Andi Houston December 1, 2011 at 9:18 am #

    My mother used to make this all the time, I haven’t thought of it in many years. I don’t think my husband or kids have ever tried this. I even have a little homemade bacon in the fridge! Thank you for posting this.

    • realocalcooking December 1, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

      Let us know how the kids and husband like it. I think it would be a good way to share spinach with kids. I know when I tried to make a spinach quiche when my kids were young they didn’t like it at all. Oh yea, maybe it was my cooking:)

  4. Luke December 2, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    You had me at bacon. I enjoyed reading the take-aways you learned from trying this recipe. Keep it up!

  5. Stacey December 3, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    I have spinach and bacon and love salad. You may have just inspired my dinner. Thanks for stopping over at Spatoola.

  6. Conor Bofin December 4, 2011 at 4:19 am #

    Thank you. I have done a daft thing and bought a second bag of spinach. Now I have something to do with it. Crispy bacon and spinach salad. Mmmmmmm.
    Conor

    • realocalcooking December 4, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

      One can always count on bacon to turn an opps into a yum.

  7. heidi December 7, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    thanks so much for posting about my prints – your blog is great!!!

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