Tools: Saute pan
Prep time: 10 minutes, serves 4
8 spring onions, sliced into rounds
10 oz fresh rinsed spinach, hard stems removed
8 pieces bacon
1 tsp. salt
Method: Brown bacon. removing when fully cooked. Slice once cooled. Keep warm grease in pan. Combine spinach, sliced spring onions, and salt in heatproof dish. Pour warm grease bacon drippings over spinach mixture and toss to coat just before serving.
Vegan variation: Substitute bacon and grease for 1 hefty tablespoon minced garlic sauteed in 2 tbsp. oil of choice, drizzle warm oil and garlic over spinach mixture just before serving.
We’re celebrating an heirloom recipe today.
My mother, granny, and even older ancestors would go hunting for ‘branch grass,’ or as we know it, watercress. I just learned that branch is an older term for a creek (small river for you not familiar with this part of the world.) Branch grass only grows near rivers. So much old wisdom has been lost with our life of convenience. Fortunately in the Carolinas life moves slower, the old ways live on. I love to think of my ancestors foraging the smoky mountains, mouths watering in anticipation for this bright, flavorful salad.
My own foraging was less exotic. When I was young my cousins and I dreamed of cobbler and set out with the hope of dessert in our hearts. Finding blackberries but having no basket, we improvised. Of course, my white overall front pocket was the best place. Rest in peace, white overalls. All was worth it for cobbler, which we did receive. Probably from berries that did not, in fact, get stored in my overall front pocket.
This salad is vibrant, fresh, and gets so much flavor from the spring onions. The exotic ‘branch grass’ has been replaced with spinach, as it is more easily accessible and holds up slightly better to the heat. As I eat it it’s hard to believe how simple the ingredient list is. I think I might even have it tomorrow.
See my recipes on Pinterest!