Spinach Salad with Cremini Mushrooms and Crispy Pancetta tossed in a Maple vinaigrette

Some evenings I simply crave veggies.  Unfortunately, I seem to have this need to dress up my simple veggies with this, that and the other, and often end up just a tad bit short of simple.  However, always delicious! 

That’s how I ended up with this simple salad.  I was feeling like a spinach salad but needed just a little more tickle for the taste buds.  I have this fabulous dressing that I use for spinach salad but didn’t have the brown sugar it called for.  No problem I thought, I’ll substitute with maple syrup.  Oh, and wouldn’t crispy pancetta taste divine with the maple flavored vinaigrette?  Well,  one thing led to another and voila!  My spinach salad was born.  (I sound like the children’s book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”) 

I must admit the maple flavors in the vinaigrette pair beautifully with the cremini mushrooms and crispy pancetta.  However, if you’re vegan or vegetarian, feel free to skip the pancetta and add other delicious flavors such as toasted walnuts or pecans, or even herbed croutons would be yummy.  Just a little something crunchy for some texture with the soft mushrooms and firm spinach leaves. 

If you don’t have pancetta on hand, feel free to substitute with your favorite smoked bacon.  As well, you can substitute the  maple syrup with brown sugar.  This beautiful and delicious salad is great all by itself, but it’s also tasty paired with salmon or pork. 

Enjoy your veggies tonight with this divine Spinach Salad.  Happy Cooking!

Serves 2

Ingredients

5 ounces baby spinach, washed and paper towel dried

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/4 cup maple syrup

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms

8-10 slices pancetta

Directions

In a skillet on medium heat, fry the pancetta just as you would bacon.  Remove the pancetta to a bowl and then crumble when cool.  Add the cremini mushrooms to the fat left in the pan and saute the mushrooms until wilted. 

Whisk together the red wine vinegar, olive oil, mustard, Worcestershire, and maple syrup.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Toss the spinach leaves with about half the dressing. Reserve the other half in the frig for up to 3 days for another salad or use over grilled salmon. 

Plate the spinach and then top with the mushrooms and crumbled crispy pancetta.  Serve immediately.

For a Vegetarian option:  Omit the pancetta and replace with toasted walnuts or pecans and thin sliced red onion.

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