tonight i decided to use all the egg whites leftover from lemon curd. there were 16...that's two cups of egg whites. my youngest daughter had been begging to buy the meringues at trader joe's for quite some time now, so i decided to go one step up and try to replicate the incredible boccone dolce from papa haydn's. lucky for me, subrosa had the actual recipe from papa haydn's pastry chef. what?! nice. this post is not about boccone dolce, though so i have gotten very distracted.
in anticipation of dessert and waiting for meringues to bake (two hours? really?!) i had lost motivation for dinner. my family had to eat something, so after staring at the refrigerator and pantry and storage room i decided a big salad would be the responsible thing to serve when dessert would be the star of the evening. we had a pound of uncured bacon ends and pieces in the fridge, plenty of spinach, throw in some walnuts, dried cherries, red onions, and feta and i could have an easy (and very tasty) meal. i had a vague memory of seeing a similar recipe in a cookbook or magazine and had been drooling over the idea ever since. i have no idea where that recipe is, so i figured it out as i went along. here's what i did:
bacon walnut spinach salad
start by finely chopping half of a red onion. put the onion in a glass bowl/dish and cover with about two tablespoons of red wine vinegar. this is a quick pickle for the onions, mellowing their flavor. they are wonderful after 10-15 minutes.
once your onions are soaking, chop 1 lb. of bacon. heat a stockpot (that way the grease doesn't spit out, no need for a splatter screen) and add the bacon. stir occasionally until bacon is cooked. remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate. add 1 C of raw chopped walnuts to the bacon grease and cook until golden, about 3-5 minutes. remove the walnuts and put them to drain with the bacon.
while the walnuts are cooling, chop 1 C of unsweetened dried bing cherries. in a large bowl, put 3/4 lb - 1 lb of baby spinach, the cherries, onions, nuts and bacon, and crumble about 2-3 oz of feta cheese. spoon about 2 T of the bacon grease and sprinkle with salt and pepper. toss everything and serve immediately.