This is the perfect dinner for a busy night when you’re still looking for something warm and comforting. Cubes of savory pancetta and a buttery poached egg elevate a basic spinach salad. This recipe takes advantage of the pancetta twice: the crispy fried bits are scattered over the salad, and the rendered fat becomes part of the warm vinaigrette that gently wilts the greens.
Spinach Salad with Poached Eggs and Pancetta
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
2 oz. (60 g.) pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch (6-mm.) cubes
3 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
Pinch of sugar
1 shallot, minced
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs
5 oz. (155 g.) baby spinach
In a small saute pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. Pour into a fine-mesh sieve set over a small heatproof bowl, capturing the fat, and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, thyme and sugar until the sugar dissolves.
Return the saute pan to medium-high heat (it will still be filmed with fat). Add the shallot and saute until soft but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the vinegar mixture, bring to a boil, and boil for 1 minute, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat. Add a few grinds of pepper and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the reserved pancetta fat to the pan, supplementing with olive oil if needed. Whisk until well blended to make a vinaigrette. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then cover to keep warm.
Pour water to a depth of 3 inches (7.5 cm.) into a large saute pan, add a pinch of salt, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Crack each egg into a small ramekin and carefully slip it into the water. Adjust the heat so that the water barely simmers. Poach the eggs for 3-5 minutes, then remove from the water with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
In a bowl, toss the spinach with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Whisk the warm vinaigrette to recombine, then drizzle about half of it over the spinach and toss well. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Divide the dressed spinach evenly between 2 plates and top each serving with a poached egg. Drizzle each egg with some of the remaining vinaigrette and season lightly with salt and pepper. Scatter the cooked pancetta over the salads and serve. Serves 2.
Find more recipes for everyday and special occasions in our cookbook Two in the Kitchen, by Jordan Mackay and Christie Dufault.