Last Saturday while shopping at the Fond du Lac farmer’s market I came across the first beets of the season. Well, at least the first beets to arrive at the market. Excitedly, I grabbed up a couple of bunches, just thinking of all the possibilities. Life interjected and we got busy with visiting friends, work, and the daily grind. I forgot all about them. This evening as I was driving home from work, in 90 degree weather, with no AC (I know you probably don’t care, but I thought I’d share my misery with you), I remembered buying them along with some beautiful baby spinach. Being hot out, salad sounded good so I threw this salad together for a refreshing late night dinner.

Beet and Spinach Salad
2 bunches Baby Beets, tops removed (if fresh you can add the tops to the salad)
2 pounds Baby Spinach
6 slices Bacon, thick cut
4-6 oz. Blue Cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup Pistachios, shelled
1 can French Fried Onion Rings
1/3 cup Maple Syrup
1/4 cup Malt Vinegar
1/2 cup Vegetable oil (any neutral flavored oil will work)
Pepper, freshly ground

Place the beets in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until a paring knife, when inserted into the beet, encounters little resistance. For baby beets, this should take about 12-14 minutes, depending on their size. When done, remove from heat and run under cold water to cool them. Peel and quarter the beets. The skins should slip off relatively easily. Meanwhile chop the bacon and cook, in a saute pan until crisp. Remove the bacon, leaving the bacon fat in the pan. Add the maple syrup and vinegar. Scrape up an bits stuck to the bottom of the saute pan and cook 1 minute. Add the oil, salt and pepper, tasting and adjusting the seasoning as needed. Remove from heat. Combine the spinach, beets, and bacon in a large bowl. Add the warm, not hot, dressing to the salad and toss to coat. Add the blue cheese and toss again. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if necessary. Divide among 4 large plates and sprinkle with the pistachios. Place a small mound of the onion rings on top. This recipe serves 4 as an entree salad or 8 as a first course.