(Disclaimer: I’m really sorry there is no photo for this. I was literally so hungry and excited about this salad that I dug in and by the time I remembered I needed a photo, it was all gone. I will make it again and share retroactively. )

Sometimes on Meatless Monday, we have bacon. It’s just a little bit of meat. Barely noticeable, but what it does for a spinach salad… 

As I’ve mentioned ad nauseam, I recently received the Jerusalem cookbook as a gift. I was inspired by one of the recipes therein (Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds) and then doubly inspired when I watched a rerun of Good Eats featuring the American Classic, spinach salad. The two recipes and various techniques involved merged in my brain and resulted in a Frankenstein’s monster kind of outcome. I lopped off some of the ingredients, added in a few more, and well, what we have is a salad so good Joel stuck his head in the bowl to lick the last bit of dressing off the sides. How many salads have driven you to such extremes? Exactly. Remember the time I toasted cashews in bacon drippings? This was even better. The crunch from the toasted almonds, bacon and red onion; the sweet chewiness of the dates; the salt of the bacon; the tang of the tamarind and lime juice… the layers of flavor (and the protein) make this a very satisfying salad.

Here’s what you’ll need:

6 strips thick bacon

1/2 a red onion, sliced very thinly

6 Medjool dates, pitted and quartered

1 TBSP white wine vinegar

1/2 cup shaved almonds

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp tamarind, “chopped” into tiny bits

1/2 tsp lime juice

Kosher salt

7 oz spinach

First, place bacon on a cookie sheet and place in a 400 degree oven. Cook until bacon is crispy enough to crumble. If you’re not using a rack, you may need to drain off fat a few times. Reserve it, though. You’re gonna need it. Remove from oven once crispy, let cool, then crumble.

Meanwhile, following Yotam nad Sami’s advice, place the red onion, dates and white wine vinegar in a bowl. Sprinkle on a pinch of Kosher salt and stir to coat everything. Set aside.

Once you have some bacon drippings to work with, place 1 TBSP in a non-stick skillet and place over medium heat. Add shaved almonds, red pepper flakes, tamarind and a pinch of salt. Stir constantly until almonds turn golden brown. Remove from heat and sprinkle with lime juice.

On your empty cookie sheet that still has some bacon drippings, place the spinach, tossing to coat it with the bacon drippings. Place in the still warm oven for 30 seconds.

Transfer spinach to a large serving bowl and add onion and date mixture, almonds and bacon. Toss and try not to stick your face in the bowl.