Warm Spinach Salad with Sweet Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette Recipe

About: Spinach salads have been popular for many years, and are featured on the menus of countless restaurants. A specially created rendition of this perennial favorite is served at Croce’s. With its fresh vanilla bean dressing and poached figs, this version offers an entirely new direction and flavor profile, which pairs well with a wide variety of fine wines, appetizers, and entrees.

Recipe Info

Restaurant: Croce's | San Diego

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cuisine: American
Meal Type: Dinner
Main Ingredient: spinach
Dish Type: Salad
Cooking Method: Simmer
Season/Occasion: Any Occasion
Dificulty: Moderate
Vegetarian: Yes


Warm Spinach Salad

Slice each apple quarter 4 times lengthwise, taking care to only slice 4/5 the way through each time. Grasp apple by uncut end and gently fan out slices. In a large mixing bowl, toss spinach with warm vanilla bean vinaigrette (see recipe). Prepare 6 plates for serving. Place spinach in center of each plate, top with a fanned apple quarter. Place 5 mandarin-orange wedges evenly at 5 points around the plate’s rim. Do the same with 5 poached fig halves (see recipe) so that figs and oranges alternate around plate. Top spinach with grapes and walnuts. Garnish with Stilton cheese crumbles on top and around salad. Serve immediately.

Sweet Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette

In a saucepan melt butter over medium-low heat and stir in brown sugar and honey. Split vanilla bean in half and core (use the pulp only). Transfer butter mixture and vanilla pulp to a blender. Add vanilla extract and pulse for 2 minutes. Slowly add olive oil, pulsing to incorporate. Return to saucepan and keep over low heat until ready to use.

Poached Figs

Bring all liquids to a boil, Reduce heat and add the figs, simmer lightly until softened and cooked through. Discard liquid; reserve figs. Let cool and cut in halves before serving.


1 1/2 lb. baby spinach 1/4 C. white wine 1/2 lb. unsalted butter 6 Mandarin oranges, carefully divided into wedges 1 Tbsp. sherry wine 2 1/2 oz. brown sugar 2 oz. honey 1/4 C. water 9 fl. oz. sweet vanilla bean vinaigrette (see recipe) 1 vanilla bean 24 seedless red grapes 1/2 lb. dried figs 1 tsp. vanilla extract 6 oz. walnuts 2 1/2 oz. olive oil 2 Red Delicious apples, quartered 15 poached figs, halved (see recipe) 12 oz. Stilton blue cheese, crumbled

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