Not-Too-Virtuous Salad with Caramelized Apple Vinaigrette

By • November 13, 2009 99 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&MThe Editors

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 cup 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.

More Great Recipes: Salads|Vegetables|Fruit|Fennel|Tarts

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