Warm Spinach Salad with Sunny Side-Up Eggs


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Wolfgang Puck Spinach improves with the application of just a little heat. Drizzle on a hot dressing and the leaves wilt slightly while retaining a pleasant contrasting edge of crispness; their flavor becomes richer and more well rounded, losing much of the sharp, astringent quality that turns some people off. When that dressing's warmth comes from a little sauteed bacon and some briefly heated white wine vinegar, well, spinach definitely meets its match in flavor.

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  • 6 C. loosely packed baby spinach leaves, thoroughly washed
  • 3 rashers bacon, cut crosswise into strips 1/2 inch wide
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 C. good-quality white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 C. croutons, optional

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Put the spinach leaves in a large heatproof salad bowl and set aside. Scatter the bacon strips in a nonstick skillet. Place the pan over medium-low heat. Cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until the strips are evenly browned and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. With a slotted spoon or spatula, remove the strips to paper towels to drain, then add them to the salad bowl with the spinach.

Pour all but 2 Tbs. of the rendered bacon fat into another nonstick skillet. Heat the fat in the second skillet over medium heat. One at a time, carefully crack each egg on the edge of the skillet and then open the shell just over the cooking surface, gently letting the egg fall into the skillet without breaking the yolk. Fry the eggs, in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding, until the whites are firm and the yolks are heated through but still runny, about 3 minutes, spooning some of the hot fat over each egg to help it cook evenly. While the eggs are cooking, raise the heat to medium-high under the first skillet with the 2 Tbs. of bacon fat. Add the white wine vinegar and, with a wooden spoon, stir and scrape to deglaze the pan deposits.

Simmer briskly until the vinegar reduces by half. Stir in the sugar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour half of the hot bacon dressing over the spinach, add croutons if you like, and toss well. Divide the salad evenly among 6 serving plates, arranging it in a loose mound on each plate. With a spatula, transfer a hot sunny side-up egg to each mound of spinach. Drizzle the remaining hot dressing over the eggs and serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

(Chef Wolfgang Puck's new TV series, "Wolfgang Puck's Cooking Class," airs Sundays and Wednesdays on the Food Network. Write Wolfgang Puck in care of Tribune Media Services Inc., 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY. 14207.)




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