- 1Place bacon in the freezer for at least 5 minutes to firm up (this will make it easier to cut).
- 2Heat a large frying pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Remove bacon from the freezer and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Cut each slice into lardons (1/2-inch-by-1-1/2-inch pieces). Line a plate with several layers of paper towels; set aside.
- 3Add lardons to the pan and cook, stirring rarely, until browned and most of the fat has been rendered, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to the paper-towel-lined plate and let cool.
- 4Remove 1/2 of the bacon fat to a heatproof bowl and reserve. Return the pan to medium heat, add bread, and toss to coat in bacon fat. Cook, stirring frequently, until bread is toasted and lightly browned but not hard to the touch, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the paper-towel-lined plate with the bacon and season croutons with salt.
- 5In a large bowl, toss together bacon, croutons, spinach, and tomatoes; set aside.
- 6Return the pan to medium heat and add reserved bacon fat. Add shallots, salt, and pepper and sauté until shallots are just tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in vinegar, scraping the bottom of the pan with a spatula to incorporate any browned bits into the dressing. Remove from heat and drizzle dressing over salad, toss to combine, and season with more salt and pepper as necessary.
Beverage pairing: Qupé Bien Nacido Vineyard “Y” Block Chardonnay, California. This savory salad could work with any number of peppy white wines or even a light, high-acid red. But its origins in comfort food suggest a nice pairing would be a “comfort wine” such as Chardonnay. Bob Lindquist, who makes this Chardonnay, is most famous as a producer of Rhône-like California Syrah. But whether he’s making red or white, it’s his taste for a balanced, unadorned, highly expressive style that makes his wines stand out.