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 on a crunchy whole wheat rice cracker
Serves 2; can be doubled.
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)
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.
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
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