Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing and Figs (or Pineapple or Mango)

For the Dressing:
3 to 4 slices bacon (diced)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup red wine vinegar (or red wine vinegar with pomegranate)
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Dash of salt

For the Salad:
3 to 4 cups baby spinach leaves (washed)
12 to 18 fresh figs (washed)
1/4 cup red onion (thinly sliced)
3 to 4 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons pecans (or walnuts, toasted*)

In a skillet over medium heat, cook the diced bacon until crisp; remove to paper towels to drain.

In a medium saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, red wine vinegar, water, cornstarch, and salt. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the bacon and heat through. Remove the dressing from the heat and let cool slightly.

Arrange the spinach leaves on four salad plates.

Slice figs in half and arrange them on the spinach. Sprinkle thinly sliced red onion over the spinach and then sprinkle the salads with the cheese and toasted pecans or walnuts.

Spoon some of the warm dressing over the salads. Make sure there are some bacon pieces on each salad.

*To toast the pecans or walnuts, spread them out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 F oven for about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir and turn frequently. Remove them and transfer them to a bowl when they are lightly browned and aromatic.

Tips and Variations

Simple Red Wine Vinaigrette: Combine 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil with 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and 1/8 teaspoon each of onion powder and garlic powder. Shake or whisk until thoroughly blended.

Replace the blue cheese with goat cheese.

Substitute fresh pineapple or mango chunks for the figs.

Use fresh sliced strawberries instead of sliced figs.

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