A warm dressing poured over tender, fresh spinach so it yields just the right amount of rawness always wins me over, but especially so as the weather cools and I look toward dishes with a real comfort-food appeal.
This salad hits the spot with a bold dressing that has big umami flavor and meaty texture, thanks to mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes. Plus, it has a heady smokiness from Spanish smoked paprika. The flavor combination matches the taste experience that bacon typically provides in such recipes, but in a much more healthful way.
One key to the dressing is to use sun-dried tomatoes that are dry, rather than oil-packed. They are rehydrated in hot water, and you use that soaking liquid, which takes on a deep tomato-y flavor, in the dressing as well, along with extra-virgin olive oil and a splash of sherry vinegar.
Those ingredients meet in a skillet where the mushrooms have been thoroughly browned and tossed with garlic and the paprika. Once the dressing is warmed through, it is poured over a mix of baby spinach leaves and thinly sliced red onion, then tossed so the greens and onions surrender a bit.
The result is a big-flavored salad that’s hearty enough for an evening meal.
Ellie Krieger blogs and offers a weekly newsletter at www.elliekrieger.com.
Warm Spinach Salad With Mushrooms and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
4 medium sun-dried tomatoes, not oil-packed (1/2 ounce)
1/2 cup boiling water
8 ounces baby spinach leaves (about 8 cups lightly packed)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces mixed mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground pepper, plus more as needed
Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a medium bowl. Pour the boiling water over them, then allow them to soak for 15 minutes. Drain and reserve the soaking liquid, then thinly slice the sun-dried tomatoes.
Toss the spinach and red onion together in a large bowl.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms and stir to coat; cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until their moisture has evaporated and they are well browned. Stir in the rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes, the garlic and smoked paprika; cook for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low, then stir in the reserved sun-dried tomato soaking liquid, the vinegar, salt and pepper and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil.
Pour the warm mushroom mixture over the spinach and onion in the bowl; toss well until the spinach is well coated and slightly wilted. Taste, and add salt as needed. Serve right away.
Per serving: 140 calories, 4 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 11 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 220 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar
Yield: 4 servings.