Let me be upfront: I went to the hospital today because I couldn’t take the back and side pain any more. They injected me full of painkillers that really knocked the shit out of me.
Between that and watching “Dance Moms,” I’m in quite the tizzy.* I therefore apologize in advance if I am incoherent, babble or use made-up words.
Brian is similarly discomfited because our Old English Sheepdog, who ate a 16-pack of potato rolls last night, jumped onto the bed this morning to curl up on Brian’s chest as per usual and promptly threw up a mound of partially-digested rolls. On Brian. So he’s self-medicating with scotch, while I use prescription painkillers and Television for Women. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.
*If anyone is wondering, there’s nothing wrong with my back at all, and I actually have a horrible and bizarre urinary tract infection with awful kidney pain. Who knew? Not me.
Unfortunately the salad, while nominally simple, involved things I usually can’t be bothered to do on a weeknight, like braise pork belly; you know, because I’m usually all doped up on painkillers or searching the house to discern what is missing from its appointed place and, therefore, will likely be thrown up next by one of the dogs.*
*If you have money riding on this, a good bet is usually “used feminine products dug out of the garbage can.” Thankfully, he has never thrown these up on either of our persons, and we now padlock the bathroom door.
So I thought about ways to weeknightify this dinner, and decided to do canned cannellini beans mixed with a warm garlicky bacon vinaigrette and bacon lardons and tossed with some baby spinach. That is: a salad that has very little to do with the inspiration recipe other than the fact that both meals contain garlic and parsley.
I cooked up a couple strips of thick cut bacon. I’d planned to mince shallots and garlic while the bacon rendered down but standing and chopping was seriously aggravating my pain level, no thanks to the crap-ass hospital that gave me a lame prescription for Naproxen Sodium – aka Aleve – AFTER I told them that I’d already taken Aleve and found it useless. I’ve been in pain for A WEEK. WHERE ARE MY NARCOTICS? Don’t make me go from hospital to hospital until someone gives me Percocet, because I will totally do it.
The upshot: I made Brian mince the garlic.
I cooked the shallots for a few minutes but the garlic for only a moment, since I wanted it to keep most of its bite. To finish off the vinaigrette, I estimated the amount of bacon fat in the pan and whisked together enough sherry vinegar and dijon mustard to create a nice dressing, mixing it in followed by the beans, lardons and parsley.
I dumped the hot mixture over some baby spinach, tossed it around a little and let it sit for a few minutes so the heat would start to wilt the greens.
In addition to mincing all the garlic, I made Brian run to the neighbors’ to borrow wooden salad bowls and servers that would be cuter in pictures. Being the good man that he is, he knows that one must humor one’s significant other after s/he has been betrayed by his or her own urinary tract, and he went gladly,* bringing back a selection of bowls in varied sizes. Thanks neighbors! Sorry we didn’t give you any food in return!
*At least, he appeared to go gladly. But then, he is very good at sublimating his silent rage.
Four slices of bacon, a can of beans and a package of baby spinach ended up being the perfect amount of food for two hungry people, although you could also use it as a first course for four.
I typically don’t find salad to be that memorable, but this salad will be making a return appearance. There was a play of textures (crunchy, creamy) and flavors (salty, pungent, bright) that really helped it to feel like a meal rather than “just” a salad. It was warm and filling without being overly healthy, and came together quickly.
It’s also a pretty cheap-ass meal. A can of beans is a buck, you don’t need much or fancy-pants bacon, and you could totally just toss the beans and bacon with some frozen chopped spinach and sub the sherry vinegar for the more commonly-found apple cider vinegar.
Also, it can be easily assembled by the drug-addled.
Fingers crossed for a pain and vomit-free day tomorrow!
White Beans and Spinach with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
serves 2 as a main, 4 as a first course
4 strips thick-cut bacon
1 large shallot, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 15oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 c. chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
6 oz. baby spinach
Dice the bacon into lardons. Put the bacon pieces into a saute pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat has rendered out and the bacon is crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan to a plate lined with paper towels, keeping the fat in the pan, and turn the heat down to medium-low.
Add the shallots to the pan of bacon fat and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.
Whisk the mustard into the vinegar, then pour the vinegar into the pan of fat; stir to combine. Mix in the beans and pepper and cook for a few minutes to heat through. Toss in the parsley.
Put the spinach in a large bowl; dump the beans and vinaigrette and reserved bacon over the top. Toss everything together, then let it sit for a few minutes.