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Lancer’s Spinach Salad

Jun 3, 2013, midnight

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Jan D’Atri

Because June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month, let’s grab a green and make magic out of it! Fresh spinach is so plentiful right now and, because spinach salad continues to be an all-time favorite, I want to share a recipe that was a signature dish many years ago at our family restaurant, “D’Atri’s” at Lake Tahoe, Calif.

It’s a recipe from my first cookbook, “Momma & Me & You,” and it comes with a great story. You could say it came up through the ashes, so to speak, of one of the most well-known eating establishments in the Lake Tahoe area in the 1950s. Lancer’s Restaurant on the Mount Rose Highway was synonymous with fine dining at the lake. Lancer’s was the place to celebrate very special occasions but it was their spinach salad that gave Lancer’s national notoriety. We’re not sure exactly who the creator of this amazing salad was, but I do know that my momma tried to talk the chef into giving her the recipe. She tried. And tried. And tried. In fact, momma tried for about 20 years with each conversation ending the same way—“No!”

Then one day, sadly, the Lancer’s Restaurant burnt to the ground. (Momma had nothing to do with it, I promise!)

But, through perseverance (and a little help from a friend of a friend of a friend of the chef’s), momma finally got the recipe she’d waited so long to toss for herself—the original recipe for Lancer’s salad! If you have a big wooden bowl, rub a hearty clove of garlic around the sides and bottom and you’ll be serving it just like the maître d’ did tableside at Lancer’s. Here’s to great greens and good kitchen stories!

Lancer’s Spinach Salad

Ingredients for the salad:

1 large clove of garlic, crushed whole

1 to 1 1/2 bags fresh spinach (about 12 oz.) washed and dried

1/2 pound crispy bacon, chopped fine

2 eggs, hardboiled and chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper

Ingredients for the salad dressing:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (important to use a good extra virgin olive oil)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Prepare salad dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, brown sugar, lemon juice, mustard and Worcestershire sauce until well blended. Set aside.

Coat the sides and bottom of a large wooden bowl with garlic, then discard garlic piece. (If you don’t have a wooden bowl, mince the garlic clove and add it to the salad mixture.)

In a large bowl, add spinach, crisp bacon, eggs, salt and pepper.

Drizzle dressing over mixture and toss gently. Serve on chilled salad plates.

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