Bacon and Spinach Orzo Salad 4.000

(Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Dinner in Minutes Jun 11, 2019

Summer loves its pasta salads; this one takes its cue from the happy flavors of a spinach salad with warm bacon-infused dressing.

4 - 6

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4-6 servings

  • 6 strips bacon (uncooked)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the cooking water
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 12 ounces dried orzo pasta (may substitute another small shaped pasta)
  • 8 ounces baby spinach (about 6 packed cups)
  • 1 large jarred roasted red pepper (may substitute 10 grape tomatoes)
  • One 2-ounce block Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)


Line a plate with paper towels. Lay the bacon slices in a large skillet. Cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes total, until its fat has rendered and the bacon is crisp, turning it over halfway through. Transfer the bacon to the plate; once it is cool enough to handle, crumble it into small bits.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Cut the shallot into 1/4-inch dice, to yield about 1/2 cup.

Reduce the heat to low. Add the shallot to the bacon fat in the skillet and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until softened. Add the vinegar, honey, the 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the black pepper, whisking to form a blended dressing.

Add the orzo to the water and cook until al dente, 6 to 7 minutes. While that’s cooking, coarsely chop the spinach (or for a more rustic look, don't chop). Cut the roasted red pepper into 1/4-inch pieces (or if you are using tomatoes instead, cut them each into quarters). Shave or grate the cheese, if using.

Drain the pasta well and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the chopped spinach, roasted red pepper and half the dressing. Stir gently until the spinach has slightly wilted.

Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with the remaining dressing, add the bacon and the cheese, if using, and stir to incorporate. Taste, and add an extra splash of vinegar, as needed. Season generously with more black pepper. Serve warm.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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