Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Apple, Bacon, Feta Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

Printable Recipe
Crunchy bacon and smoked almonds contrast the sweet apples and salty feta in this salad dressed with a surprisingly light maple vinaigrette. There are no greens, only apples, but there's really nothing stopping you if you'd like to bring some light lettuces into the mix. I'm living without them in this recipe and sticking with apples as the star of the show. Honeycrisp, Fugi, or Gala apples are perfect for this slightly sweet, salty, smoky,  fall salad. I used just two large apples, peeled, quartered, and cored. Slice them about 1/4" thick and then halve that again for hearty bite size pieces. I made quick work of that part with my ancient version of a mandoline (Ronco) slicer-dicer first and then roughly cut in half crossways with a chef knife to make them a good size bite. To keep the apples from darkening I dunked them in water with a squeeze of lemon while I measured up the rest of the salad and made the vinaigrette.

1/3 Cup Canola or Peanut Oil 
3 Tbs Maple Syrup
3 Tbs Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
This is actually a very mild vinaigrette and will be more than enough for this salad, possibly even enough to use twice. Be sure to use a mild flavored oil, not olive oil which conflicts with the other ingredients. It's not often I forgo olive oil but this is one time that it does make a difference to use something else.

Now, for the rest: 
1 cup Feta (Mt Vikos is the best!)
1/2 cup smoked almonds chopped in half
1/3 cup crumbled bacon (about 6 slices)
Dry the apple slices and combine with above in a roomy bowl so you can toss it well with some of the dressing and give it a taste. The dressing should just enhance the other flavors, not overwhelm them or end up being the predominant taste. *A note about the cheese - all feta is not created equal. It can be powerfully salty and even stinky and I don't mean that in a good way. Steer clear of American made feta (sorry America, leave this one to other countries who do it better). My favorite of the many, many brands I've tried is Mt Vikos (Greek). It's not as salty or strong yet still has a distinctive flavor that doesn't rely on that pungent salt. If you can't find Mt. Vikos, start with less than the full cup of feta and do a taste test before adding the rest. Let the apples shine most!


It's FallFest at the Food Network website and you'll find me there for the next twelve weeks! Every week we'll be sharing great recipes for fall and early winter vegetables. Next week be Spinach and I have a quick easy way to make spinach that even kids will eat. In the mean time, check out these other mouth-watering recipes for Apples:

CIA Dropout: Apple-Roasted Duck
Cooking Channel: Add Apples to Your Salad
The Cultural Dish: Apple Cider Martini
And Love It Too: Fried Apples (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free and Vegan)
From My Corner of Saratoga: Easy Skillet Apple Pie (A Southern Living Recipe Reviewed)
Haute Apple Pie: Baked Apple Pancake
Virtually Vegan Mama: Slow Cooker Apple Date Butter
Big Girls Small Kitchen: Apple Pancakes
What's Gaby Cooking: Apple Cake
FN Dish: Savory Apple Recipes
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Roasted Apple and Caramelized Onion Soup
The Sensitive Epicure: Pan Fried Apple Rings (Gluten-Free)
Glory Foods: Caramel Apple Upside Down Cupcakes
Dishin & Dishes: Old Fashioned Apple Crisp
Cooking With Elise: Wholegrain Apple Oat Pancakes


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