This is the perfect cold weather salad- it gives you a healthy dose of light greens combined with a deep, earthy flavours of bacon, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes and olives with a rich and savoury dressing. It comes together easily in under 30 minutes and makes a simple dinner, a side dish for a feast, and is even great cold for lunch the next day.
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Challenge Weeks: 1-13
- 4 cups of baby spinach (or baby greens)
- 14 ounce can of artichoke hearts, sliced
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 Tablespoons pitted and halved Nyon or Beldi olives (Niçoise or Mission also work well)
- 2 Tablespoons sundried tomatoes, diced
- 8 pieces of bacon
- 2 Tablespoons fresh basil, torn
- 2 Tablespoons sugar free mayonnaise (or avocado)
- 1 Tablespoons sugar free dijon mustard
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup avocado or olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme, leaves only
- Salt and pepper to taste
First prepare the dressing so the flavours have time to meld together. My most simple dairy free cream dressings have an egg base (in the form of sugar free mayo) as it comes together easily and is already emulsified. That is a fancy word meaning that the oils and water based ingredients are already well combined in a uniform consistency. If you don’t enjoy eggs, you can easily replace the mayo with an equal measure of avocado. If neither are on your food list, soak two Tablespoons of white nuts or seeds in water for a couple hours and blend with one Tablespoon of fresh water before adding the other ingredients. There are always options!
Add the mustard, lemon juice, salt, pepper and fresh thyme to the mayo (or it’s substitute) and whisk in a small bowl or jar until well combined. As you whisk, slowly pour in the oil so that it can be combined with the other ingredients. Then set aside to meld. The main flavours in this dressing come from the thyme, an herb from the Mediterranean region that’s in the same family as oregano, basil, mint, and shiso. It’s grounding, savory-sweet, not-too-intense flavor makes adding thyme a simple way to add complexity and warmth to most savoury dishes. If you don’t have any on hand, it is simple enough to substitute in one of it’s cousins listed above.
Before cooking, prepare the artichoke hearts, olives and tomatoes by spooning them from their containers and chopping or tearing them into bite sized pieces. Of course fresh is always better, but sometimes I really enjoy the flavours these food products can lend to a dish. For example, sun drying brings out the natural sweetness and a robust flavour in tomatoes. I always try to buy canned goods that are water or olive oil packed that are cured with salt, rather than chemicals.
Artichokes can be a pain to prepare, which is the reason I usually choose to use the hearts already in a jar! However if you would like to use fresh tomatoes and steamed artichokes that would also be delicious. The olives add a sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent flavour blend that only these cured fruits can. They brighten up and balance this dish well, without being overpowering. Tear the basil leaves as well.
The most filling component of this salad is of course the bacon, which also complements the clean, fresh taste of the artichokes. Of course you can use any cured meat in its place, or even thinly sliced sauteed mushrooms for a vegetarian version. I prefer to chop the bacon slices into 6 pieces each with scissors before cooking, but you can also tear or crumble the slices once cooked. I find the best texture is just crispy and still a bit chewy, but cook it however your heart desires, and then set it aside. Pour off the desired fat leaving 1 Tablespoon in the pan. Add the artichoke hearts, season with salt and let them cook on each side for about 2 minutes, until nicely browned and crispy.
Once the artichokes have been browned all over, remove them from the pan and add to a salad bowl with the salad greens, bacon, olives, sun dried tomatoes and torn basil leaves and toss to combine with dressing. Your low maintenance yet slightly sophisticated dish is ready to serve warm or cold. Enjoy! For more delicious recipe, visit our blog.