Salade d’épinards avec pancetta

Spinach salad with pancetta

If you cannot find pancetta — the Italian bacon that is rolled and cured rather than smoked — you may use thin strips of bacon instead.

2 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves
6 slices pancetta or 6 strips bacon
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt
2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic

Start by preparing the sauce. Squeeze a lemon through a sieve into the bottom of a large salad bowl. Add the salt and stir. Add 2 tbsp. olive oil, one spoonful at a time, stirring to create a smooth, emulsified sauce. Grind in some black pepper. Peel the garlic clove and slice it in half lengthwise. Mince the halves finely and add to the sauce. Stir.

Wash the spinach leaves and spin them dry. Remove any large stems. Place the spinach on top of the sauce, but do not mix yet. The salad may be put aside in the fridge at this point for finishing later.

Just before serving, cook the pancetta. Heat 1 tsp. olive oil to sizzling in a large frying pan. Fry the pancetta or bacon over a medium high flame — a couple minutes per side should do it, but watch carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn. When nicely browned, remove to a paper towel for draining.

Now compose the salad. Toss the spinach with the sauce. Place on individual plates. Set three pieces of pancetta or bacon on top of each salad. Serves 2.

This salad works best as a first course. If you’d like to serve it as the main course of a light supper, I’d advise crumbling in some roquefort and possibly adding croutons as well. Choose a wine that is spicy but not sweet, a Loire red like Chinon for example.


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