Scallops & Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

There are few things as delicious in this world as crisp, chewy bacon. I love it topped on everything from burgers to donuts, and in everything from pasta to grits. I cook with the leftover grease if possible; I hate throwing out good food! Waste not, want not, right?

Instead of using leftover grease to cook shrimp or eggs, I decided to use it in a dressing for a spinach salad. The words "warm bacon dressing" sounded a little bizarre, yet very intriguing at the same time. We usually start the week with a salad on Mondays and this was just what we needed to mix things up.

When I first made this, I was worried the dressing was ruined right away. Once I added the vinegar to the pan, it smelled so strong that the only thought that came to my mind was, "There is no way this is gonna be edible. Sh*t." But after a few minutes of whisking, the vinegar cooked down and the dressing came out quite amazing - slightly sweet and mustardy, with a hint of apple cider.

I think next time I'll add yet another ingredient: Old Bay Grilled Corn. Yum. I hope your June is off to a great start!

Scallops & Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

  • 6 fresh scallops
  • 8 ounces baby spinach, washed, dried and stems removed
  • 7 slices thick-cut bacon 
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Dash of salt
  • Splash of red wine vinegar, if you have it
  • 1 small shallot, sliced
  • Goat cheese, for topping (optional)
  • Quartered cherry tomatoes (optional)
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • Lawry's Salt 
  • Pepper

For the warm bacon dressing: 

1. Fry bacon until crispy over medium high heat. Remove to a paper towel and pat to dry. Remove 3 tablespoons grease and set aside.

2. Add 3 tablespoons (or, whatever you end up with, really) of the reserved bacon fat, vinegar, sugar, Dijon and salt to the same saucepan or skillet, but over medium-low heat. Whisk together and heat thoroughly until bubbly. Note: it's going to smell very strongly like vinegar. Keep cooking it and it'll die down and taste delicious!

For the pan-seared scallops:

3. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels. Heat a 10- or 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot, or for about 5 minutes.

4. Add 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter. Pat the scallops dry once more and put them in the pan in a single, uncrowded layer. Season with salt and pepper and let them sear undisturbed until one side is browned, about 2 ½ minutes. Using tongs, turn the scallops over and sear until the second side is well browned and the scallops are almost firm to the touch, about 2 ½ or 3 minutes. 

5. Once both sides are browned, remove from pan and set on a separate plate. Do not let scallops become too hard to the touch; they will be overdone and taste tough. Adjust searing times as needed.

6. Pour bacon dressing over spinach and toss together with bacon, shallot, goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, and walnuts. Season with Lawry's Salt and pepper. Top with scallops and enjoy!


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