Lazy, jet-lagged weekend and Cristiano’s Spinach Salad with Warm Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

Three days back from Hong Kong and I’m feeling marginally better than I did Friday, which was a total beast, could barely get off the sofa so it’s a good thing someone invented the remote control eons ago (okay, in my lifetime, but still). My limited goals for the day included a grocery store run, menu planning and making Soft Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies. I really wanted to bake a cake, and I’m about to go on a cake-baking binge with all my new Pinterest finds and a new board dedicated to interesting cake recipes, but baking a cake is a lot of commitment, you know? Not just in the hours actually baking, cooking, trimming layers and icing the thing, but in the eating. A lot of commitment in the eating. Like about 12 people’s worth of commitment. That’s a hard sell, right now, when almost everyone I know is eating healthy and eschewing sweets. When the two oldest were home I could bake a cake that would get at least half-way consumed before being taking to the faculty lunchroom, but given that the youngest has a penchant for eating pretty-much nothing except pasta, string cheese, salami and oreos, it becomes an impossible sell.

On the heels of a blissful Niçoise salad this afternoon, the cookie-making is pushing it a bit for me, but I know that we will eat horribly tomorrow for lunch if I don’t prep a salad, tonight, and my current obsession is to make every salad into a jar salad that’s so easy to enjoy in a teacher’s ridiculous 30-minute lunch that I can’t NOT make one for our first day back to school after Spring break. Voilà:  the Cristiano’s Spinach Salad with sliced mushrooms, shredded mozzarella, chopped bacon and Warm Tomato Basil Vinaigrette.

I kept going back to Cristiano’s for a while just to get this Spinach Salad, when suddenly I realized I could make it at home! With the internet! And a recipe for a Warm Tomato Basil Vinaigrette! Poof! Funny how magic happens like that.

Cristiano’s Spinach Salad with Warm Tomato Basil Vinaigrette (for 4)

16 oz. baby spinach evenly divided between four bowls
1 1/2 c. freshly-cooked then chopped bacon evenly divided
2 c. sliced mushrooms, evenly divided
2 c. shredded mozzarella evenly divided
Directions:  Layer in the order above

Warm Tomato Basil Vinaigrette
2-3 Roma tomatoes, seeded & finely chopped
1/2 c. finely chopped basil
4 T. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. olive oil (as always, I use my Rosemary-infused olive oil)
2 T. dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste
Directions:  Mix all in a small saucepan, then heat over medium low. Do not let it boil.

For the jar salad version:  Pour the dressing in the bottom (unless you want to heat it before topping the greens), then add in the following order:  chopped bacon, sliced mushrooms, mozzarella, spinach.

Yumminess. It’s going to be a great week.

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