Get out of your salad rut! This Spinach Bacon and Warm Goat Cheese Salad is simple and satisfying. With crispy bacon, fresh mushrooms and hard boiled eggs, this classic spinach salad has everything you want, including gooey fried chèvre and a tangy bacon vinaigrette.
Spinach bacon salad has always been a favorite of mine. I think it was the combination of all my favorite things that made this seem more like a “treat” and less like a “salad.” In this rendition, I’ve included an easy bacon vinaigrette and my favorite melty, gooey fried chèvre, which is arguably the crowning touch.
Ingredients For Classic Spinach Salad
- Hard Boiled Eggs
- Red Onion
- White Button Mushrooms
- Panko Breadcrumbs
- Goat Cheese (a.k.a. chèvre)
This easy spinach salad dressing, also happens to be one of my favorites. In this version, we replace 2 tablespoons of olive oil with rendered bacon fat, which lends that porky umami to the standard vinaigrette. It’s not overly fatty, but the drippings emphasize the flavor of bacon that’s also in the salad.
Ingredients For Tangy Bacon Vinaigrette
- Olive Oil
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Dijon Mustard
- Hot Rendered Bacon Fat
To Make the Bacon Vinaigrette
- Fry the bacon in a skillet. When the bacon is crisp, transfer it to a paper towel lined dish for later.
- In a small bowl combine the olive oil, vinegar, shallots, dijon mustard, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of the rendered bacon fat and whisk until thick and emulsified. Set aside until you’re ready to dress the spinach salad.
Goat cheese is soft and tends to be crumbly, which can make it a challenge to slice with a knife, especially because remnants will always cling to the knife and never give a truly even cut. I’m not saying this method is perfect, however, it’s a lot easier than futzing with a cheese knife.
Easy Way To Slice Goat Cheese
- Cut a piece of unwaxed, unflavored dental floss to about 8″ long.
- Lay the dental floss in a straight line on a cutting board.
- Rest the log of goat cheese on the dental floss, so that about 3/4″ to 1″ of the goat cheese juts out beyond the floss. This is the size of the cut you’ll be making.
- Pick up either end of the dental floss and cross them over each other. Release the floss without tugging.
- Pick up the ends of the floss and pull them apart until you’ve cut a slice of cheese.
- Because there’s less surface area on the dental floss, there’s less for the cheese to stick to and the cuts (while imperfect) hold their shape better than they would with a knife.
- It may take a few times to get the hang of it, but once you do, you won’t go back.
To Make The Fried Chèvre (a.k.a. Goat Cheese)
- Add Panko breadcrumbs to a shallow bowl or dish.
- Place goat cheese rounds into the panko and lightly press to adhere.
- Turn the goat cheese over and press into the breadcrumbs again.
- Lift the cheese from the bowl and use your hands to gently press and reform any parts that are disfigured. (Hey, it doesn’t have to be perfect… it’s fried cheese, so you know it’s gonna be good.)
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet. When it’s hot, add the rounds of cheese and cook until they’re lightly browned and crisp on the bottom.
- To flip, use a flexible spatula (I like a fish spatula for this, because they’re thin and pliable) to slip under the fried chèvre, using your other hand to steady the cheese.
- Gently flip and continue frying on the other side. Repeat with remaining goat cheese rounds.
- Cheese will start to get melty and gooey, that’s ok. You just want to get enough of a crispy crust to add texture.
- Transfer the fried chèvre to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
To Assemble The Spinach Bacon and Warm Goat Cheese Salad
To Serve In A Salad Bowl:
- Combine the spinach, onion, cucumbers and tomatoes in a bowl.
- Dress the salad with a few tablespoons of dressing and toss to lightly coat. Add more dressing if needed and toss again.
- Arrange hard boiled egg around the edges of the bowl and sprinkle with bacon.
- Top with warm goat cheese rounds.
To Serve Spinach Bacon Salad On A Platter or Individual Plates:
- Arrange the spinach as the bottom layer.
- Sprinkle with red onion.
- Add the cucumbers, tomatoes and wedges of hard boiled egg.
- Dress the warm goat cheese salad with a few tablespoons of the bacon vinaigrette.
- Top with a warm goat cheese round and sprinkle of crispy bacon.
This classic spinach salad is great with a crust of french bread and a chilled glass of sauvignon blanc. I like to smear the warm goat cheese on the bread. If you’re the same way, you may want to make extra!
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Spinach Salad and Fried Chèvre
- 12 ounces fresh baby spinach
- 4 hard boiled eggs peeled
- 1/3 cup red onion thinly sliced or diced
- 8 mushrooms thinly sliced
- 7-8 slices bacon diced
- 4 campari or plum tomatoes cut into wedges - or 1 cup grape/cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cucumber peeled, seeded and sliced into half moons
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- 1/2 cup panko or dry breadcrumbs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
for the vinaigrette
- 2 tablespoon hot rendered bacon fat
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 large shallot minced
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- special equipment: unwaxed unflavored dental floss
- Heat a skillet over medium- medium high heat and add chopped bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally until bacon is browned and crisped. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside. Reserve 2 tablespoons of rendered bacon fat for the dressing.
- Add the spinach, onion, mushrooms, tomatoes and cucumber in a salad bowl or arrange on a platter.
- Peel the eggs and slice them into quarters - set aside.
Make the dressing
- Add the bacon fat, olive oil red wine vinegar, shallot, dijon mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk to emulsify and set aside.
- Slice the goat cheese with the dental floss. Lay the floss flat on a cutting board. Place the goat cheese on top of the floss and cross the ends of the floss. Continue to pull the ends until it cuts off an even slice. Repeat with the remaining goat cheese.
- Place the bread crumbs in a dish and place goat cheese slices on top, lightly pressing the bread crumbs into the cheese. Flip the cheese and coat the other side with the bread crumbs.
- Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add the goat cheese rounds and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until just browned. Transfer to a paper towel lined dish.
- If the rendered bacon drippings have started to congeal, microwave the dressing for 10-15 seconds to warm it and stir again to emulsify. Pour the warm dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Divide the salad onto 4 plates. Sprinkle each salad with bacon. Divide eggs among the plates and top each salad with the warm goat cheese. Serve.
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