If there’s one way to get vegetable naysayers to eat a plate of greens, it’s adding crispy bits of bacon and a serious bacon-y flavored dressing to the mix.
This salad hits all the flavor notes: sweet, salty, savory, and acidic. It starts with a bed of baby spinach topped with roasted red grapes, crumbled feta, toasted walnuts, and crispy bacon.
You might be wondering why you’d roast grapes instead of serving them raw in a salad but hear me out. Roasting concentrates the flavor so the grapes become sweeter and tangier. Plus, there’s just something about combining fresh and cooked textures in a salad that adds extra interest and balance.
After cooking the bacon, the reserved bacon grease is used to make a warm vinaigrette. That might sound like a lot of bacon, but the richness from the bacon is balanced with the tang of the feta and roasted grapes.
This salad is ideal no matter what the weather. The warm components and richly flavored vinaigrette make it an ideal addition to your dinner table as the season transitions into cooler autumn months.
Make It a Meal
If you prefer to bulk up the salad to make it a complete meal, you can easily add additional vegetables, grains, and/or proteins. I suggest the following additions:
- Thinly sliced red onion
- Raw or roasted broccoli or cauliflower florets
- Farro or barley
- Sliced hard-boiled eggs
- Red kidney beans or cannellini beans
- Sliced chicken, steak, or fish
The Best Kind of Bacon for the Bacon Vinaigrette
I recommend you use regular bacon in this recipe. It gives off plenty of grease during cooking, which is then used in place of oil in the vinaigrette. You could also use a smoked or flavored bacon variety. As long as it’s pork, it should work.
Turkey bacon is quite lean and doesn’t give off enough drippings to make the vinaigrette. However, if you prefer the flavor or nutrition of turkey bacon, you could swap an equal amount of extra virgin olive oil for the bacon fat in the dressing. I’d recommend starting with one quarter cup of oil and adjusting as needed.
Swaps and Substitutions
Salads are easily customizable, here are a few ideas to switch things up:
Greens: I find the mild flavor and texture of baby spinach most palatable, but feel free to swap with baby kale, arugula, or whatever leafy greens you have on hand.
Nuts: If you don’t have walnuts on hand, they can be swapped for pecans, pine nuts, or pistachios.
Cheese: I’m partial to the tang the feta brings to this salad, but it can be subbed with blue cheese or gorgonzola.
Fruit: If you’re short on time or grapes, you can skip the roasting step and sub dried cranberries for a similar tangy-tart sweetness.
Prepare Salad Just Before Meal Time
Salads are best enjoyed freshly made and this one is no exception. It’s best consumed right after preparation, while the roasted grapes and bacon vinaigrette are still warm.
I don’t recommend planning for leftovers once you toss this salad with the vinaigrette. The spinach will turn soggy, the bacon will lose its crispness, and the fat in the dressing will solidify in the refrigerator—not exactly appetizing.
If you find yourself with more salad than your family can eat in one sitting, dress only the portion of salad you plan to eat with vinaigrette.
Store any remaining salad in an airtight container and remaining vinaigrette in a separate container in the refrigerator and plan to eat it within 24 hours. Warm the dressing in a small saucepan on the stovetop or in the microwave before dressing the salad.
Looking for More Great Salad Recipes? Try These!
- Poached Egg and Bacon Salad — Salad Lyonnaise
- Radicchio Salad with Citrus
- Hetty McKinnon’s Seaweed Lettuce Salad
- Lentil Salad with Arugula and Feta
- Spring Vegetable Salad with Asparagus, Peas, and Radishes
Spinach Salad with Roasted Grapes and Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
- For the salad
- 2 cups seedless red grapes
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- Salt, to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup raw walnuts
- 8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 6 cups baby spinach, long stems removed
- 3 ounces crumbled feta
- For the warm bacon vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup reserved bacon grease
- 1/4 cup shallot, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat the oven and prepare a baking sheet:
Preheat the oven to 375℉. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Drizzle grapes with oil and season:
In a small mixing bowl, toss together the grapes with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and ground black pepper. Spread the grapes onto the parchment lined baking sheet.
Roast the grapes for 15-20 minutes or until they are wrinkled and starting to bubble. Some of the grapes may burst but try to pull the grapes out of the oven before they do so, otherwise they lose texture.
Toast the walnuts:
In a large dry skillet over medium heat add the walnuts. Stir constantly, until the nuts are warm and give off an aroma, about 5 minutes. Remove walnuts from skillet and set aside.
Prep and cook the bacon:
Using the same skillet you toasted the walnuts in, add the chopped bacon. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crispy, about 10 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer bacon pieces to a paper towel lined plate to remove excess grease. Reserve the remaining bacon drippings in the pan.
Make the vinaigrette
Transfer 1/4 cup of bacon drippings to a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.
Whisk in the Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, and ground black pepper.
Continue cooking for about 3 to 5 minutes until the vinaigrette begins to reduce and thicken. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. When the vinaigrette coats the back of a spoon, it’s ready.
Transfer the warm vinaigrette to a small bowl or jar.
Assemble the salad and serve:
Spread the baby spinach on a serving platter or salad bowl. Top with the roasted grapes, bacon pieces, walnuts, and feta. Pour half of the warm vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine. Serve immediately with remaining vinaigrette on the side.