As twenty-somethings, and as young adults, there are times during which we find ourselves craving something healthy yet filling. Salads can be so blah. But fear not, I have the perfect solution. I have taken one of my favorite Food Network recipes and added to it to create the perfect spring salad with spinach and goat cheese.
6 cups loosely packed stemmed baby spinach
1/2 cup (5 ounces) fresh goat cheese (recommended: Laura Chenel)
1/3 pound thick-sliced pancetta, cut into strips about 1 inch long and 1/4 inch wide
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Put the spinach in a large bowl. Crumble the cheese over the spinach. Cook the pancetta in a medium skillet over medium heat until crispy, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the pancetta in a sieve set over a heatproof measuring cup, reserving the rendered fat. You will need 1/4 cup for the dressing. If necessary, add enough olive oil to make 1/4 cup. Pour the fat back into the pan and add the pancetta. When the pancetta is warm again, add the garlic and cook until light brown, about 30 seconds, stirring occasionally. Add the thyme and let it crackle in the fat for about 10 seconds. Add the vinegar, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for about 30 seconds to lower the acidity of the vinegar. You should see tiny drops of vinegar dispersed throughout the fat. Add the dried cranberries and stir. Pour the dressing over the spinach and cheese. Toss to coat the leaves evenly and melt the cheese a little. Serve immediately.