As you might expect, there aren’t a whole lot of great restaurants in Florida. Sure, there are a lot of places that are fun to go to. And I’d kind of like to smack the person who believes that watching the silver arcs of excited, traveling dolphin pods while downing mojitos at St. Armand’s is not magical. You see, a lot of the dining experiences I had when I lived in Florida were great because of the atmosphere. The food itself was mostly…meh.
There were dishes that I enjoyed, though. The Truffle Mac and Cheese at Bern’s Steakhouse, the Autumne Salad at C’est La Vie, the Founder’s Pie at Pizza Fusion. But then, in an entirely different class of its own, we have the warm spinach salad at Ceviche. And now, we don’t even need to talk about it, because I have made my own version of it in Minneapolis. And I would venture to say that mine is even better, which I did not know could be possible.
Spinach is known to wilt in the presence of warmth, which is why I lovingly crafted a heated vinaigrette that was just cool enough to preserve the texture of raw spinach. Caramelized onions and garlic provide a savory sweetness to complement the honey and the rich chew of the figs. I think the only thing this salad is missing is the dance floor at Ceviche. But judging from what I think are my slick, Mick Jagger-esque moves, that’s probably best. It’s just not my place to make anyone feel bad.
Spinach with Warm Fig and Honey Vinaigrette
3 oz baby spinach
1 tsp diced shallot
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup (about 5 whole) dried black mission figs, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
sea salt, to taste
Place baby spinach in a large bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan on medium heat, caramelize the shallot, garlic and 2 tbsp olive oil. When the onions are translucent and slightly browned, add the figs and honey and turn the heat off. Stir vigorously to heat the honey and combine all ingredients, then transfer them to a small bowl to rest for 10-15 minutes. Once the mixture has rested, add the additional olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and desired amount of sea salt, stirring to combine. Drizzle gently and slowly over the baby spinach, combining as you pour (so as not to wilt the spinach). Serve.