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April 26, 2011

Recipe for deconstructed spinach salad on a crunchy whole wheat rice cracker

Deconstructed spinach salad1

Though I complain from time to time about the cooking competition shows so popular on television these days, I confess that I'm addicted to one of them. Chopped, on the Food Network, pits four chefs against each other and against the ingredients in a mystery box. A bit gimmicky, of course, but this show actually focuses on cooking, and that's why I love it. There's a lot of deconstruction going on, and believe it or not, until I made this deconstructed spinach salad, I didn't really "get" the whole idea of taking the elements of a dish apart and putting them back together in a different way. When I looked in my mystery box (refrigerator) and saw that I had all of the components of a classic spinach salad, I set out to make one. While I was cooking the bacon, I realized that what I really craved was an egg salad, so that became the star of the show. I used giant whole wheat rice crackers as the crunchy base; toasted pita bread would be a great substitute.

Deconstructed spinach salad

Deconstructed spinach salad on a crunchy whole wheat rice cracker

From the pantry, you'll need: eggs, bacon, mayonnaise, fresh black pepper, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Serves 2; can be doubled.

Ingredients

3 eggs
3 strips of bacon
2-3 tsp mayonnaise
Pinch of fresh black pepper
2-3 chives, or 1 large scallion, finely chopped, divided
4 cups baby spinach leaves, washed
2 large rice crackers, or small oat-bran or whole wheat pitas
1 tsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, optional (for garnish)

Directions

Place the eggs in a small sauce pan, and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over high heat. As soon as the water comes to a rolling boil, remove the pan from the heat and cover it. Let it sit, covered, for 12 minutes. Then, run the eggs under cold water, while shaking the pan gently to crack the egg shells. Let sit in the cold water until the eggs are cool enough handle; peel, and place in a mixing bowl.

Cut the bacon strips into 1-inch pieces, and spread them out in a small, nonstick, cold frying pan. Turn the heat to low, and cover the pan with a splatter shield. Cook, turning occasionally, until the bacon is crisp but not burned. Remove to a plate covered with paper towels, and set aside to drain.

Mash the eggs with the mayonnaise, black pepper, and 3/4 of the chopped chives or scallion. Place one rice cracker on each plate. (If you're using pita bread, toast the pitas for 3-4 minutes in a 375°F oven, until they are crispy but not burned.) Divide the spinach leaves, placing half on each rice cracker. Top with a mound of egg salad, and garnish each plate with half of the bacon pieces, the remaining chives and (optional) grated cheese.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
"Smoked" egg salad
Homemade mayonnaise and egg salad
Caesar salad with shrimp
Spinach salad with glazed beets and blue cheese
Chickpea, quinoa and spinach salad with preserved lemon vinaigrette

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Balsamic spinach salad with gorgonzola and hard-boiled eggs, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Bacon and egg spinach salad, from Dinner with Julie
Chinese marbled tea eggs, from Steamy Kitchen
Poached eggs over rice, from 101 Cookbooks
Baked eggs with cheese, tomatoes and bacon, from Cookography

Need more ideas for how to create salads with pizzazz? Get Dress Up Your Salad, my e-book packed with easy mix-and-match recipes, full-color photos and a few fun videos. Exciting salad recipes from everyday ingredients can be just one click away, on any computer, tablet or smart phone, with the FREE Kindle Reading app. Click here to learn more.

Comments

I've been craving egg salad too - And with the few paltry leaves of spinach that the snails left me in my garden...
We actually get Chopped over here and both like it. However, you can keep all the cupcake shows (what's with the cupcake craze?)

It looks really good, love the photo. What a great idea, perfect on the cracker.

I love that show and I love your salad but I don't love Ted Allen!
(off to make some egg salad that I now crave!)

Love the sound of this. I need something quick for dinner and had been thinking about egg salad!

Katie, I don't get the whole cupcake thing, either. But I love Chopped because it's all about making do with what you have (not that I ever have some of those ingredients in my pantry!).

Lyndsey, thanks so much. The cracker was a delicious counterpoint to the gooey egg salad.

Carol, he's the least interesting part of the show (to me). Egg salad is a crave food for me, too.

Kalyn, I think I could eat egg salad every day!

Must have been the hard boiled egg coloring from last weekend… I'v been making egg salad all week too! Love that you incorporated spinach. I've been putting some Dijon in mine also

Kristen, maybe I should have titled this post "What color is your egg salad?" ! Mustard is a great addition.

Beautiful spring "thing"--I could eat this for breakfast or any time!! When I have spinach in the frig., I am alwaays picking at it. Along with the cupcakes shows, take the cake ones where they build these 50 pound, ten foot towers. What good do us real cooks learn from those shows. Chopped is one of the best on TV!!

Tis the season for egg salad! This looks delicious and it's a very creative take on 2 old standbys! (egg salad and spinach salad) I will have to try this.

I have never really watched "Chopped" since I, too, am very tired of all the cooking competitions. I must give it chance, now.

Thank you.

Looks good enough to gobble down :-), but cant try this one yet for health reasons.

Come to think of Lydia, most of the times in the kitchen we are deconstructing dishes based on our cravings, what is there in the kitchen and time constraints.

Great blog entry. I find Chopped a real education in odd ingredients. And sometimes on normal ones that I didn't understand that well. Yes, keep the cupcakes.

What a lovely simple salad using fresh ingredients... and that's what food preparation is all about anyway, right? Thanks for keeping it real, Lydia! I love visiting your site!

Pat, although I admit to some fascination with the whole oversized cake thing (because I could never imagine doing it myself), I'd much rather watch people cook than watch them build.

Debbie, I don't think I'll ever get tired of egg salad!

Sri, that's a good way of looking at how we cook. I think the term "deconstruction" always frightened me a little bit, but now I'm starting to "get" it.

Janet, what I love about Chopped is the fearlessness of some of the chefs in combining those ingredients. And the ones who stop to taste the raw ingredient first always seem to do best with it.

Countrygirl, thanks so much. My feeling is that if you put good stuff into your pantry, good stuff will come out!

Eggs are already made and in the fridge, as is the spinach. My life has been revolving around salads these days, and spinach salad is one of my faves! And I LOVE your "mystery box" - I have the same one!!!

Toni, I've begun to think of my fridge as a mystery box, whether it's empty or completely filled. I buy what looks good, and only afterwards begin to think of how to use it. More fun that way, and having a well-stocked pantry makes it possible.

I love it! Finally a positive outcome from food TV! :-)

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About The Perfect Pantry®

  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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