This spinach and bacon salad with Caesar dressing is a riff on the classic Caesar salad, this recipe calls for spinach, radicchio, and bacon. Croutons seasoned with cheese and garlic add crunch and flavor.
This spinach and bacon salad with Caesar dressing is my interpretation of a steakhouse classic. The original Caesar salad was created in 1924 by Caesar Cardini, an Italian, at his restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico, and was made with romaine lettuce. My version uses full-flavored tender spinach leaves and slightly bitter radicchio instead and includes bacon. I think bacon makes everything taste better.–Laurent Tourondel and Michele Scicolone
Spinach and Bacon Salad with Caesar Dressing
For the soft-boiled eggs
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
For the croutons
- 1/2 loaf country bread crusts removed (about 12 ounces)
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 garlic clove minced
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the caesar dressing
- 6 salted anchovy fillets rinsed and patted dry
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 garlic cloves peeled
- 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
For the salad
- 1 1/2 pounds baby spinach washed, trimmed, and well-dried
- 1 medium head radicchio washed, trimmed, and well dried
- 10 slices (about 1/2 pound) cooked double-smoked bacon crumbled
- 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) crumbled blue cheese such as Point Reyes Original Blue
Cook the soft-boiled eggs
- cook the soft-boiled eggs
- Place the eggs in a medium saucepan with salted water to cover. Add the vinegar. (Adding vinegar to the water as the eggs cook helps the egg whites to set better.) Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 4 minutes.
- Remove 2 of the eggs and cool them in a bowl of ice water. They will be lightly cooked. These are for the dressing.
- Cook the remaining 2 eggs 8 minutes longer, or until they are hard cooked. Drain and cool to room temperature under running water. Peel the hard-cooked eggs and separate the yolks and the whites. Pass the whites and yolks separately through a sieve.
Make the croutons
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes. You should have about 2 cups.
- Toss the bread with the Parmigiano-Reggiano, olive oil, paprika, garlic, and salt and pepper. Spread the bread cubes in a large pan. Bake, stirring once or twice, 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool.
Make the Caesar dressing
- Crack the soft-cooked eggs and scoop them into a food processor or blender. Add the anchovies, mustard, and garlic. Process or blend until smooth. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a thin stream. Blend in the cheese and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. You should have about 2 cups dressing.
Make the salad
- Toss the spinach and radicchio with enough dressing to evenly coat the leaves.
- Divide the salad among 6 plates. Scatter the croutons and crumbled bacon on top. Sprinkle with the cheese and the sieved eggs.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
For me, this is simply the perfect Caesar salad. I like Caesar salads, and I always order them in restaurants, but in my opinion, the classic Caesar—though good—always needs “more.” This one has more, and then some. I love the fact that the dressing uses a soft-boiled (rather than raw) egg. I love the way that the finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano coats and fuses with the croutons. I love the substitution of the more flavorful and colorful spinach-radicchio mix for the romaine lettuce. I love the crunchy-creamy and smoky-tangy addition of bacon and blue cheese. I love how passing the hard-boiled egg whites and yolks through a sieve creates a more subtle egg flavor throughout and a lovely fluffy-looking topping. I love that the recipe does not require much work but results in a gorgeous presentation. I love this salad.
This recipe is a winner. It is over the top. The combination of the spinach and radicchio is wonderful. The dressing has great flavor and the croutons are delicious. I was concerned that it would be salt overload with the bacon and blue cheese, but it was acceptable, and I did omit the salt in the croutons. I must say, though, this recipe is a lot of work. Sieving the eggs—yikes—can’t you just chop them? It’s not the quick weekday Caesar. I consider this a special-occasion salad and worth the work.
Originally published March 3, 2007