It looks as if we have Pennsylvania Dutch tradition to thank for warm bacon dressing, and that makes kitchen sense to me. Finding a use for the just-rendered fat from a pan of freshly crisped rashers — in this case, the oil substitute in a shallot vinaigrette — is both thrifty and practical.
The dressing probably also helped to wilt savoy spinach pulled straight from the garden, with the kind of sturdy, crinkly leaves that are increasingly hard to come by at the supermarket.
This recipe pairs that dressing and crisped bacon with orzo, a popular choice for the pasta salads of summer. We’re using the more ubiquitous baby spinach leaves here, which don’t put up the same fight as their savoy kin but get slip-slide-y along with the orzo. Roasted red pepper completes the cheerful palette.
Shaved Parm is an optional, salty hit; you could just as easily toss in the small balls of mozzarella called bocconcini, which would add a different texture and tone down the salt and acidity in each bite.
Speaking of that acidity, taste the salad before you serve it. If you’re like me, you’ll add one more splash of vinegar to balance the bacon-y richness.