Monday, January 10, 2011

Shrimp & spinach salad with warm bacon dressing

Oh, Monday!  I'm actually somewhat excited to see you.  This weekend was one of those packed to the brim with fun that I feel any more would've exceeded my allowance and made me an irresponsible adult.  Talk about a sign that you're getting old... when you have fun guilt.  Pfffff.  Thank goodness I did some cleaning and meal prep last night before bed, or I would've been all id this weekend.

Yesterday Matt and I went to visit my parents' for brunch and QT, then I did the usual zen food trip (am I the only person whose happy place is the grocery store?).  Friday was my favorite kind of Friday -- came home after a tough workout, made a great dinner, did a little organizing and then bummed around watching TV.  The next day, the fiancé (!!!) and I made a nice little Saturday of running errands, shopping, dinner, and a flick with friends -- Black Swan.

Have you seen it?  Let's just say it wasn't quite what I expected.  Freakishly disturbing.  A tad racy.  Intense.  And a bit scary at times.  But, good, in an unconventional not my typical cup of tea kind of way. And, daaaaaaaaaang, Natalie Portman has some serious acting chops.  She portrayed all kinds of crazy Nina Sayers the ballerina so well.  Come on, you can't say you'd take one look at her with those red eyes and think anything other than "psycho town", right?

But gosh, it was pretty fascinating to see inside the (movie) world of ballet.  The way they sculpt their bodies with hours and hours of dedicated work.  And how little they feed said bodies' muscles.  Grapefruit and an egg?  Get real, people!  You need some protein to feed those fast and slow twitch fibers.  I would've even settled for seeing one of those super long and lean dancers indulge (?!) in a salad.  And you know how I'm not a fan of salads, normally.

Well, that was until I met Friday night's salad -- a zesty, colorful, and utterly satisfying symphony of flavor that was sure to feed my tired muscles... and prepare them for a weekend of sluggishness.  This salad... even after eating this delicious creation myself, the word still makes me shudder a bit... is so robust that I feel like it deserves a new word.

Until I come up with one (or you do, any thoughts?), let me tell you about this mouth-watering feast.  It packs three major sources of protein: eggs, bacon, and shrimp.  The extra lean protein from the shrimp and eggs are flavored by the touch of fat on the bacon.  The bacon drippings are used as a base for the dressing, which is made tangy by adding apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard, while mushrooms and onions are cooked in said mixture.  Mm!  Don't wait another second to make this!

Shrimp and Spinach Salad with Bacon Dressing
(adapted from Women's Health)
-serves 4

A few notes: As with any salad, add whatever vegetables, nuts, or other condiments as you like.  But, to be honest with you, it lacked nothing (not even shredded cheese) at all to award this salad "Best Salad of My Life."  For serious.  Also, the original recipe suggests adding a bit of olive oil if the dressing is a bit sparse, but I found that none was needed.

8 ounces (1/2 pound) shrimp, peeled and deveined or thawed, if frozen
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
6 ounces baby spinach
1 cup sliced mushrooms
6 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
1/2 sweet onion, sliced
3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (red wine works, too)
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
Ground black pepper
Olive oil (optional)

Set a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook bacon pieces until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel.

Add onion and mushrooms to the hot skillet, tossing to coat in bacon drippings, and cook until onion begins to brown, about 3 minutes.  Season shrimp with salt and pepper to taste and add them to the skillet.  When the shrimp are pink and firm (2 to 4 minutes), stir in vinegar and mustard, and season again with salt and pepper to taste.  If the skillet looks dry, add a splash of olive oil.

Divide spinach and eggs among 4 plates and top with the hot shrimp mixture, some of the dressing from the skillet, and bacon.  Feast!

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