Not-Too-Virtuous Salad with Caramelized Apple Vinaigrette

By • November 13, 2009 • 94 Comments

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Author Notes: Normally I pass over any dressing that requires anything more than a bowl and a whisk, but this dressing is well worth the extra dishes. Acidic, sweet, salty, crunchy, decadent, fresh- this salad hits all of the notes! I love how the acidic sweetness of the dressing complements the savory saltiness of the bacon. Pair the clean fresh flavors of the fennel and celery root with a combination of bitter and substantial greens and you will not be sorry you made the effort. This would be fantastic with duck or a big wedge of stinky cheese and served as an entree. - wanderashwanderash

Food52 Review: Wanderash is right -- this salad isn't wimpy or chaste, with its sultry, thyme-laced caramel apple dressing and bacony chew. But for every lardon, there's a crunchy hit of celery root, a shard of fennel and tart apple, and by the time you've emptied your bowl, you're sated and happy and have forgotten the chill of the outside world. The dressing recipe makes much more than you need, but you won't mind. Make more salad or warm it gently to drizzle over a pork chop or duck breast. - A&MA&M

Serves 4-6

For the salad:

  • 4 handfuls mixed greens, about 6 oz.
  • 1/4 celery root, peeled and very thinly sliced or cut into matchsticks
  • 1 fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cups pecans, toasted
  • 5 slices lardons or thick cut bacon, cut into lardons
  • 1 tart apple, thinly sliced into half moons
  1. In a heavy skillet cook lardons over moderate heat. Stir occasionally until crispy on all sides and reserve on a paper towel to drain fat.
  2. Place all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Pour 1/4 of the dressing over the salad and toss well.
  3. Taste a piece of lettuce and add more dressing depending on your preference.

Caramelized Apple Vinaigrette

  • 2 ounces brown sugar
  • 3 ounces plus 1 ounce apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 gala apple, peeled, cored and medium diced
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 ounces olive oil
  • 2 ounces canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • salt
  1. In a small skillet over medium heat add 3 ounces vinegar and the sugar. Let it reduce until the color turns a dark caramel color and begins to thicken. You will start to see big foamy bubbles on the surface.
  2. Add the apples and garlic and sauté until the apples are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  3. Remove from heat and put in the blender with 1 ounce of vinegar, thyme, juice of ½ lemon and a pinch of salt. Woosh until blended, then slowly add the oil. Blend until the dressing is emulsified. Taste and season with salt and perhaps a splash more vinegar.
Jump to Comments (94)

Tags: fall, Salads, winter

Comments (94) Questions (5)

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about 1 month ago mstv

Great! I prefer this with half the sugar, a tsp of Dijon mustard, more salt and black pepper. I also think the flavor goes well with chèvre in a salad. Great recipe and technique.

Peapod

4 months ago Sara Gillis

I've only made the dressing from this recipe, but it is wonderful. With mixed greens, goat cheese, spiced pecans...marvellous.

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4 months ago Chris Glenn

So, for those of you that are thinning the salad dressing, have you ever considered replacing part of the vinegar or oil with an equal amount of flavored liqueur or wine or beer? I've been doing that for years. One of my favorite ones to use is Chambord, I believe that a black raspberry Liqueur. That flavor may not be appropriate for this dressing but perhaps applejack or(?) I usually use a tablespoon or two to replace part of the oil or vinegar.

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10 months ago za'atar

This salad dressing is delicious ... but the apple I used must have been too large because my dressing turned out much thicker and clumpier than I hoped. Even after adding extra oil, for me it was just a bit strange on the salad. However, the flavor is fantastic and I would definitely use it on pork or duck as suggested in A&M's review.

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10 months ago Loredona

I had a small dinner party Friday evening and this salad was a big hit with my guest. I served it as a first course along with Kombocha Risotto and the Chocolate Bundt Cake on this site as the dessert course. The dressing was what made the salad. I also used some spicy pecan's from Trader Joes and topped it off with gorgonzola. Thank you for a wonderful recipe!!

Ashtaco

10 months ago wanderash

love the idea of the spicy pecans-- i am going to try that. The blue cheese is a pairing we have enjoyed too. yummy!

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12 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

My whole family really likes this salad, so I've included this recipe in my Thanksgiving 2013 menu collection. We'll be having MrsLarkin's Truly Scrumptious Apple Pie, so I plan to make this using pears instead of apples, though I'll still use apple cider in the dressing. Will be testing it out over this weekend. I'm so looking forward to it! ;o)

Ashtaco

10 months ago wanderash

So happy to hear it is going to be on your T-day table. It will be on ours too! I think the pears will be perfect.

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12 months ago Salvegging

This dressing is soo good! I made my own riff on the salad with thin sliced apples/toast pecans/blue cheese and a bit of shaved carrot. It pretty much compliments any fall-junkie salad : ) Thanks!

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12 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Salvegging, I like your idea to add carrots! I'm not a big fan of raw fennel (as much as I like it cooked just about every possible way, and pickled), so I will use carrots instead (or, in addition to the jicama I have substituted in the past). Plus, they carrots will add more color. Such a great idea. Thank you for posting here. ;o)

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over 1 year ago piacere

This fantabulous recipe, which someone posted on Pinterest, is what led me to find Food52. As a newbie to Food52 I am grateful for the virtual trail of crumbs that led me to both this delicious salad recipe (it has been a three time hit at our house) and this delicious, as in intriguing, website. Thanks!

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over 1 year ago Ham

I just served this at a dinner party and everyone raved about the flavors. An extremely well composed salad. I accidentally left the skins of the apple (meant for the dressing) on, but as far as I could tell it just dyed the dressing a bit more red. Delicious! I will definitely make this again for Christmas dinner.

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almost 2 years ago linda.schoenfeld

Delicious salad and fantastic dressing, but is it supposed to be the consistency of applesauce or should I have thinned it?
Linda

Kabul1

over 1 year ago jifferb

I had that issue too once- when I ran out of oil. Don't skimp on the oil!

Kabul1

almost 2 years ago jifferb

I know Mr. Sifton says salad doesn't belong on a Thanksgiving table, but this one is going on mine. The dressing is deeeevine and the celery and fennel are genius and a the perfect balance for the sweet potato casserole with marshmellows. Btw, I use roasted hazelnuts instead of pecans and they are goooooood! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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over 2 years ago Krechiewow

This sounds positivity gorgeous! must try

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over 2 years ago Krechiewow

This sounds positivity gorgeous! must try

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almost 3 years ago tulueats

I made this truly delicious vinaigrette for my Thanksgiving guests. The salad consisted of bitter and sweet greens, some gorgonzola cheese crumbles, fennel slices and thin raw turnip rounds. Thank you so much for this recipe! Right up there with the best of Food52 winners! I will use it again and again.

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almost 3 years ago zoe.d

This is by far one of my favorite salads. It's perfect cold weather comfort. The dressing is fantastic and I find celery works perfectly when I don't have celery root in the house. Thanks for the recipe.

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almost 3 years ago Robin22

At first the dressing seemed a bit labour intensive but it's really so easy, and SOOO worth it. We subbed in toasted almonds and sauteed tofu for the pecans and bacon and it was a total hit!

Anina

over 3 years ago Anina banana

Wow, I failed miserably at pulling off the vinaigrette. Not sure what happened, but i don't think I'll waste the ingredients trying again. I'll just settle for remaining intrigued by what could have been :)

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over 3 years ago livetoeat10

I finally made this Salad and my -oh -my , it's DIVINE. The dressing is out of this world, will definitely make it again sooooon.

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over 3 years ago Chicago Girl

This was a huge hit at my house. My husband practically shoveled it down with me as a close second. My two daughters (8 & 10) did well with it the only exception being the celery root, odd because one of them loves celery and they both like raw fennel thanks to my Italian sister-in-law. The deal maker is the dressing, absolutely divine.

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over 3 years ago EatDrinkLyon

The dressing is amazing! Yes, a bit of a faff but totally worth it, and there's leftovers today (only two of us). I actually used roquefort and bacon and it went perfectly. Totally yum. Will def make again. Thanks!

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over 3 years ago Auntie M & M

Made this for a Super Bowl party. Very well received. To lighten the dressing I substituted an ounce of water for the same amount of olive oil. Turned many on the food52. I did not know that there is any one in this world that does not know about food 52;). Keep the great recipes coming.

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over 3 years ago AnneMP

This dressing was a little too vinegary for me but otherwise the flavors were amazing! Maybe next time I will add more oil/less vinegar to balance, thanks!!

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

Perhaps try using a bit more sugar in the begining, that might give it the flavor you are looking for.

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over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I made this for dinner guests last night, and it was delicious! Great dressing & I'm glad I've got some left in the fridge.

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over 3 years ago Brsboarder

How long do you think this dressing will hold up in the refrigerator if I want to make a larger batch.

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

I haven't tested it out, but I would guess you are def. safe with a week.

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over 3 years ago fortheloveofyum

Congrats on the win! I definitely need to make this salad minus the bacon (don't eat pork). Here's to more delicious dishes out of your kitchen!

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

Thanks Nadia!

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over 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Wanderash, seriously, you should bottle and sell this dressing. It's one of the most delicious dressings I've ever tasted. It's so good, and works brilliantly with so many kinds of salads. Really. Congrats!! ;o)

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

WoW! Thanks, AntoniaJames. I really like the dressing in a salad using only spinch leaves. The leaves are hearty, and can take a heavy pour of the dressing.

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over 3 years ago gingerroot

Congrats, wanderash! This is a gorgeous salad with all of my favorite things.

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

Thank you everyone! What an amazing start to 2011! I am so thrilled to be included in the book! It's going to be a good year!

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over 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Congrats, wanderash! This is a beautiful recipe!

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over 3 years ago Table9

Congratulations! This is lovely!

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over 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations!

Kay_at_lake

over 3 years ago Kayb

A very worthy winner! Congrats!

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over 3 years ago Lizthechef

Congratulations!

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over 3 years ago cookbookchick

I love the inventiveness of the dressing -- will try making it soon. I'm wondering, what do you think about substituting jicama for the celery root? I have fennel and jicama on hand -- just used my lone celeriac last night to make the mash with potatoes and apple on Food52.

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

the celery root was lost to a good cause, i would say. as for substituting jicama, why not? go for it. however, jicama will add a sweetness and celery root is more earthy. let us know how it is.

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over 3 years ago ww_adh

I'd love to try this, as it sounds great. How much quantity of bacon does it call for? I'm not sure how much "5 slices of lardons" is. Half a package? 8 oz.?

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

8 oz. sounds about right. Although, I am not sure. I would say, do it by "eying" it. Portion out how much bacon you think looks good, then add about 10% more. Bacon in our house always seems to disappear due to snacking. It would be great if you would post how many ounces you ended up using! Enjoy the salad!

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over 3 years ago Joan DePree

I finally got my vote in. Hope you are a winner. A perfect salad!!!!! xxJoan

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over 3 years ago lacerise

This recipe made me rush out to buy celery root, fennel and just the right apples. I made the dressing, cooked my lardons, and toasted the pecans in the morning so there was very little left to do to get it on the table. Getting it off the table was easy .... it was originally meant as a side for dinner Saturday night, but ended up as our main course b/c we couldn't stop eating it! Dee-lish!

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over 3 years ago mistercarter

That is fantastic! I am so glad it was a hit!

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

opps! my husband was still signed in--- that comment was from me, although i am sure he would agree :)

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over 3 years ago mister'sbrother

This delicious salad is ripe with rich, yet subtle, textures and flavors. It exudes a warmth that reminds us of brighter days ahead. I can't wait to share it with all my loved ones!

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over 3 years ago mistercarter

That is beautiful mister'sbrother. Since I know you don't share your brother's passion for bacon.... this would be really delicious without the bacon and wedge of your favorite cheese. Brighter days ahead indeed!

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over 3 years ago mistercarter

The dressing was divine and surprisingly easy to make! Soooo good. I vote for you because bacon always wins!

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over 3 years ago fourthandfifteenth

This is an awesome salad! My husband and I just devoured it for a wonderful winter dinner.

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

thanks fourthandfifteenth! I am so glad you enjoyed it!

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over 3 years ago Alfie

This salad has the right balance of texture (apples, celery root, & fennel) and savory vinaigrette to coat the greens. What's not to love?

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over 3 years ago Sarah Rowland

Delighted to hear you are a finalist. You definitely should win as this looks like a champion recipe! Am going to try it as soon as I buy a celery root. Have never bought one before as I did not know what to do with it!!!
Love to all the family
Sarah Rowland

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

Thanks for the vote Mrs. Rowland! It is such a pleasure to introduce you to celery root. I think you will be fast friends. Try the celery root puree recipe on this site-- it is a super yummy!

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over 3 years ago eddie

This looks amazing. I'm making it today! Good Luck!

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over 3 years ago sana_ghias_habib

Hello dear! Looks beautiful! (Think i posted my comment on another page - hope you get to see this one!)

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

Thanks Sana! Can you get fennel and celery root in Pakistan? I'd love to hear how you tweak the recipe! :)

Kabul1

over 3 years ago jifferb

This is the PERFECT fall-winter salad - the salty bacon with the crisp tart apple, the rich pecans and the celery root (what a perfect addition!). And the dressing - so delicious - I can't wait to use this pork too! Nice one, wanderash - you have my vote!

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

thanks jiffer! you make me want to whip one up and eat it right now! yum!

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over 3 years ago Waverly

Your recipe looks delicious.....especially your vinaigrette. Congratulations on being a finalist.

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over 3 years ago kitty lansing

Wonderful combinations of ingredients and I love the end result, and can't wait to make it again,
Kitty

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

I'm so glad you made it and liked it and will make it again. It really is a sexy salad!

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over 3 years ago onetribegourmet

Congrats! :)

Karen_and_amy

over 3 years ago My Pantry Shelf

Apple, bacon, pecans! Wow. Thank you for sharing.

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over 3 years ago wileynancy

Awsom combination. I can't wait to try it. Congrates on being a finalist.

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

Thanks Aunt Nancy :) I hope you do. Let us know how it was!!

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over 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations on being a finalist--great recipe!!

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over 3 years ago Minimally Invasive

Congrats! Coincidentally, I was just wondering what to do with the celery root that's been hanging around in my fridge. Can't wait to try this out.

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

As usual... Food52 to the rescue!

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over 3 years ago fortheloveofyum

Congrats on being a fellow finalist! I love this beautiful salad and it stood out to me in the lineup. Good Luck! -Nadia :)

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

Thanks Nadia! Best of luck to you too!

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over 3 years ago Midge

Oh wow. This is fantastic. Congrats wanderash!

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over 3 years ago healthierkitchen

Congrats!! I've been enjoying this for a while.

Mrs._larkin_370

over 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Congrats on the EP and on being a finalist. This sounds so delicious!

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over 3 years ago gingerroot

Congrats on being a finalist! Everything about this sounds amazing. Can't wait to try it.

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

Thanks! I am so excited to be a finalist-- this will be the longest week ever! I hope you try the salad!

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over 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Love love love this. I've made this a bunch of times over the last year and still love it! Many congrats on being finalist, wanderash!!

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

That is really wonderful to hear! Thank you!

Kay_at_lake

over 3 years ago Kayb

Love, love, love this dressing! It sounds worth reducing vinegar, something I hate do to because of the smell -- but oh, this sounds great! Congrats!

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

The smell, the stinging of the eyes, the extra dishes... all worth it. Trust me. Hey, wait, Kayb, you're the genius behind the marinated cauliflower! You know all about vinegar.

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over 3 years ago vegetarianirvana

what a genius dressing.Congratulations!

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

Aww, shucks! Thank you, I hope you try it!

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over 3 years ago lastnightsdinner

Oh, yum - great combination of flavors and textures. Congrats on being a finalist!

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over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

The photo of this is stunning, and the salad sounds really tasty.

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over 3 years ago healthierkitchen

Love this salad! Have you thought about entering it in this week's contest?

Ashtaco

over 3 years ago wanderash

Thanks healthierkitchen! I thought of it right away, was just lagging on remaking and photographing it. I hope you make the salad, it is super tasty!

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over 3 years ago healthierkitchen

I have made it and it is delicious!

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over 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

I made this for a party over the weekend and it was great!

Ashtaco

over 4 years ago wanderash

I am so glad! Thank you for letting me know!

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almost 5 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

This looks wonderful. I have some apples from a local farm CSA I get deliveries from that I'm looking for a fun way to use. I can see that the dressing is a great match up with the celery root. And with all the fennel at the farmer's markets right now, this is perfect. Thanks for posting!

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almost 5 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Brilliant! I'm making this dressing tomorrow. I love apples and eat them all the time when they are in season. This recipe is making my mouth water just to read it! Yum, yum, yum!!