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FOOD : Yes, Virginia! : From Richmond Comes a Spinach Salad With California Flair

October 09, 1988|BETSY BALSLEY | Balsley is The Times' food editor.

OCCASIONALLY, in the most unexpected of places, one comes across a recipe that fits into the Southern California life style. Such a dish turned up not long ago in that land of tradition, Richmond, Va. There, the elegant, turn-of-the-century Jefferson Sheraton Hotel, which is listed in both the National Register of Historic Places and in the Virginia Landmarks Register, has been restored to its former state of formal elegance.

Named for America's third President, the hotel emphasizes the Jeffersonian tradition of serving good food. Although popular Southern delicacies such as spoon bread and grits are on the menus, also in evidence are the lighter foods that today's diners prefer. The restaurant's Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon-Calvados Dressing could easily find a place on the menu of any number of contemporary California restaurants.

SPINACH SALAD WITH HOT BACON-CALVADOS DRESSING

2 1/2 pounds fresh spinach leaves

2 small sweet red peppers, cored, seeded and cut into thin strips

1 cup fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced

3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

1 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

Hot Bacon-Calvados Dressing

Wash and pat dry spinach and remove stems. In large bowl, combine spinach with red-pepper strips, mushrooms, eggs and pine nuts. Add hot dressing to taste, toss again to coat mixture lightly and serve at once. Makes 6 servings.

Hot Bacon-Calvados Dressing

pound bacon, diced

1 cup onion, diced

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and thinly sliced

cup Calvados (apple brandy) or other fruit brandy

cup red wine vinegar

cup apple cider

1 teaspoon cornstarch

cup apple juice

1 clove garlic, crushed

Salt, pepper

Cook bacon in skillet until crisp. Drain off fat. Add onion and apples to bacon; cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender. Stir in brandy. Add vinegar and cider and heat until mixture begins to simmer. Dissolve cornstarch in apple juice and add to skillet. Stir until mixture thickens slightly. Add garlic, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat but keep warm. Makes about 1 3/4 cups.

Food styled by Norman Stewart; prop styling by RoseMary Aguayo; silverware courtesy of Tesoro Collection, Ltd.

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