This modern twist on the classic warm spinach salad is memorable and delicious. It takes the same components – spinach leaves, crisped bacon, red onion, eggs, a hot vinaigrette – and goes many steps beyond by adding texture and flavor contrasts with tangy Granny Smith apples, dried cherries, crunchy toasted walnuts, bitter frisee, smoked sea salt and creamy fresh goat cheese.
Last, but not least, is the Candied Duck Bacon that graces the top of this magnificent salad. We recommend making a double batch so you have more for later. Trust us on that.
Get the recipe!
DUCK BACON & SPINACH SALAD
Created for Maple Leaf Farms by Chef Matthew Nolot
- 1/2 lb fresh spinach leaves
- 1 small head of frisee
- 1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces
- 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced
- 6 oz crumbled fresh goat cheese
- 5-6 red onion rings
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 1 batch Duck Bacon & Cherry Vinaigrette, hot (see below)
- Large pinch smoked sea salt
- 4-6 slices Candied Duck Bacon (see below)
Hot Duck Bacon & Cherry Dressing (1 1/4 cups):
- 3 oz Maple Leaf Farms Duck Bacon
- 6 tablespoons rendered duck fat
- 1/4 cup red onions, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon + one pinch Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 fresh thyme sprig
- 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons dried cherries
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
Candied Duck Bacon:
- 1/2 lb Maple Leaf Farms Duck Bacon
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Pick stems from the spinach and tear into bite-size pieces.
2. Trim frisee and tear into bite-size pieces.
3. Wash and dry spinach and frisee pieces and place into a large serving bowl.
4. Sprinkle the top of the salad with the toasted walnut pieces, sliced Granny Smith apples, crumbled goat cheese and red onion rings. Toss lightly.
5. In a small, non-stick skillet, melt the butter and add the eggs.
6. Fry the eggs over medium heat, turning once, until they start to crisp around the edges; the yolk should still be runny.
7. Slide the eggs on top of the salad.
See Serving & Assembly
Hot Duck Bacon & Cherry Dressing:
1. Dice the duck bacon into 1/4-inch dice.
2. Heat the duck fat in a medium sauce pan until hot.
3. Add the diced duck bacon and cook until bacon starts to crisp, about 4 minutes on medium heat.
4. Add the red onions to the pan along with the salt and pepper, and continue to cook until onions start to brown, about 4 more minutes.
5. Add the thyme sprig, red wine vinegar, water, sugar and dried cherries and bring to a slow simmer.
6. Mix the cornstarch with 2 teaspoons of water to form a smooth paste.
7. Whisk the paste into the dressing and continue to cook on low for an additional 6-7 minutes.
8. Remove from heat, remove thyme sprig and keep dressing hot until needed. Refrigerate any leftovers for up to 1 week. Gently reheat any refrigerated portions on the stove top or microwave before serving.
Candied Duck Bacon:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
3. Place the brown sugar and cayenne pepper in a mixing bowl.
4. Add the duck bacon slices to the bowl and toss to coat.
5. Line the duck bacon slices in a single layer on the foil-lined baking sheet.
6. Top the duck bacon slices with any brown sugar/cayenne mixture left in the bottom of the bowl.
7. Bake the duck bacon for 16-18 minutes until bacon is a dark golden brown and sugar is bubbly and browned on the edges. If duck bacon is not done, continue to cook in 3-4 minute increments until color is reached.
8. Remove duck bacon from the oven and allow it to cool for about 5 minutes.
9. While slightly warm, transfer duck bacon slices to a serving plate or platter. Duck bacon will continue to crisp as it cools.
Serving & Assembly:
1. If not hot, heat the Duck Bacon & Cherry Vinaigrette until hot and pour over the salad.
2. Lightly sprinkle the salad with the smoked sea salt.
3. Serve immediately garnished with the Candied Duck Bacon.