When I tell you that I love this salad, I want you to understand what that means.
See, I like spinach. I do. But spinach salad and I had something of a falling out. I was a vegetarian in college, and when I ate in the cafeteria there weren’t always very many appetizing veggie options. So every day at lunch and every day at dinner, I ate a spinach salad.
Sometimes I ate something else, too, like a sandwich, or some noodles with marinara sauce, or some veggie lasagna. But pretty much every day of my life, I had a spinach salad with black beans, olives, tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigrette. (BORINGGGGG).
So, needless to say, as soon as I was free from my college cafeteria I went straight for anything BUT spinach salad. And now, most of the time, when I see spinach salad, memories of boring cafeteria spinach come screaming back to me and I die a little inside.
Until one day last summer, when my friend Lydia made this spinach salad. And I was cured. (Well, sort of. I still hate any spinach salad that isn’t THIS spinach salad. But hey, progress!) So when I say I love this salad, in spite of my no-spinach-salad-ever-again mindset, that means that this salad is SUPER DUPER DELICIOUS. I’ve done my best to recreate the dressing Lydia used, and it even has Kyle’s official stamp of approval (woo!) The crispy prosciutto in this salad is the other game-changer. The dressing is sweet with a hit of vinegar, and the salty prosciutto rounds out the flavors in an “oh-man-how-did-I-ever-live-without-this-salad” kind of way.
Spinach Prosciutto Salad with Basil Vinaigrette
FOR THE DRESSING:
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic
2 and 1/2 tsp. red wine vinegar
4 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. Put all ingredients in a small blender or food processor and puree until basil and garlic are chopped finely and dressing is emulsified. It should look like a traditional vinaigrette or a very runny pesto.
2. Pour over salad. Serve immediately. Dressing will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.
FOR THE SALAD:
3 oz. prosciutto (about 4 sandwich-sized pieces)
4 cups baby spinach leaves
1. In a skillet or in a 375 degree oven, crisp the prosciutto. Turn the meat frequently on the stovetop or on the pan in the oven, making sure that all sides of it get nice and crispy. This process usually takes 10-15 minutes, regardless of which method you choose. I prefer to cook my prosciutto in the stove so it doesn’t spatter on my stovetop. It should be super crunchy!
2. Remove the crisped prosciutto to a plate covered in a paper towel. The towel will soak up any remaining grease and keep the prosciutto from getting soggy. Let it cool.
3. When prosciutto is cooled, crumble it into pieces. I like big chunks, but you can crumble it into bacon-bit sized pieces if you’d like.
4. Toss the crispy prosciutto with the spinach and dress lightly with basil vinaigrette. Serve immediately.