Spinach, White-Bean and Red-Onion Salad

Source: Food and Wine - January 1998
adapted by http://theresalwaysthyme.blogspot.com/

My notes: I used Champagne vinegar. Didn't make the bread part of the recipe, although it sounded good. I used walnuts, omitted the bacon as per Bubbe's excellent suggestion! Next time, I'd give them a little toast in the skillet first! I cut the recipe a bit and used one bag baby spinach, half a red onion and one can of beans for four of us!

4 3/4-inch-thick slices country bread or sourdough bread
1/4 pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
2 red onions, sliced thin
3 tablespoons wine vinegar
4 cups drained and rinsed canned cannellini beans (two 19-ounce cans)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
4 pounds spinach, stems removed, leaves washed well
2 tablespoons olive oil
Heat the oven to 450°. Put the bread on a baking sheet and toast until lightly browned, turning once, about 5 minutes.
In a large frying pan, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Add the onions to the bacon fat and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the vinegar, the beans, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper. Mix gently and remove from the heat.

Put the spinach in a large glass or stainless-steel bowl. Add the remaining tablespoon of vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, the oil, and the bacon to the bowl and toss. Stir half of the bean mixture into the spinach and put the salad on plates. Top each slice of toasted bread with the remaining bean mixture and serve with the salad.