It’s amazing how far a bunch of spinach goes when you don’t cook it! I’m still using that huge bunch of spinach from my local farmstand. As I said before, it’s so delicate and mild, it lends itself to the lightest cooking (or none at all).
I’ve always loved spinach salad with its slices of raw mushroom, bacon and blue cheese. Tonight, instead of the raw mushrooms, I’m sauteing some portabello mushrooms, which are much more interesting and meaty than raw white mushrooms.
The key to clean-tasting portabello mushrooms is to remove the gills to prevent them from bleeding their black ink into whatever medium you’re cooking them in. Simply take a teaspoon and scrape out the gills from the underside of the cap and discard them.
Once gills are removed, slice the mushrooms and saute on high heat in 2 tablespoons of olive oil with salt and pepper for about 5 minutes.
To prepare the spinach, take the bunches of leaves and remove the lower stems and bases. Set these aside–do not throw away–try making the pasta recipe (below) with the stems. Slice the spinach leaves into 1/2″ ribbons and wash in a deep bowl of cold water (deep enough for the leaves to float in the water so that the soil falls to the bottom of the bowl). Repeat the washing until there is absolutely not a trace of soil on the bottom of the bowl. Spin dry and place in a towel until ready to use.
Next prepare the roasted peppers as I outlined in my “Steak Salad” post.
Once the portabellos are sauteed and the peppers are roasted, proceed with the recipe below.
Spinach Salad Italian Style
6 cups washed spinach cut into 1/2″ ribbons
1 lb portabello mushroom caps, prepared as outlined above
2 roasted peppers, cut into 1/2″ ribbons
1/4 lb bacon cubes, rendered in a skillet on low heat until crispy
2 – 3 oz. feta cheese for sprinkling
juice of half a lemon
2 tbls extra -virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a mixing bowl, dress the spinach with lemon juice, oil and salt.
Pile on 2 large plates and top with the remaining ingredients, arranged in clusters.