Not-Too-Virtuous Salad with Caramelized Apple Vinaigrette

November 13, 2009
9 Ratings
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. - wanderash —wanderash

Test Kitchen Notes

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&M —The Editors

  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • 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
  • 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
In This Recipe
  1. For the salad:
  2. 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.
  3. Place all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Pour 1/4 of the dressing over the salad and toss well.
  4. Taste a piece of lettuce and add more dressing depending on your preference.
  1. Caramelized Apple Vinaigrette
  2. 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.
  3. Add the apples and garlic and sauté until the apples are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  4. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • anna
  • Achefwannabe
  • Betty Jo McDonald
    Betty Jo McDonald
  • Taylor Stanton
    Taylor Stanton
  • krystine
My love for all things delicious lead me to the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and three years of working in restaurants and wineries in Napa Valley. My love of travel has propelled me all over the world. After living in Honduras and Mexico for the past 5 yrs., my two children, super-hero husband, and I have just moved to the Midwest....... A new chapter is unfolding....

105 Reviews

anna November 22, 2020
The recipe was time and labor intensive but incredibly delicious and worth the work. I made this as a treat for myself one Saturday evening. Paired great with Chardonnay. Will make again for guests!
[email protected] November 9, 2020
Achefwannabe February 18, 2019
My wife loved this. I will be making it again. :)
fj62 November 21, 2017
Does the dressing keep in fridge well? Would like to make day ahead.
Betty J. June 11, 2017
I am making this soon! I was just wondering why the canola oil and not just olive oil? I will leave out the bacon as I am vegan.
seeabigail January 4, 2019
Hi Betty,
Did you end up using the Canola oil? I'm thinking of nixing it and using all Olive oil instead.
allison February 8, 2016
Does celery root or fennel brown when cut ahead of time?
Taylor S. November 12, 2015
This salad dressing is amazing. Wow. Ate it on top of mixed salad + mustard greens, toasted walnuts, and celeriac.
lauriw March 29, 2015
Hands down my favorite salad dressing of all time.
krystine November 18, 2014
i made this salad last night for dinner as a side dish and it stole the show!
Chispa November 2, 2014
I made this almost exactly as the recipe read (every cook makes slight adjustments for pantry reasons as well as taste, right?) - and people at my party loved this more than anything else on the table. Amazing. So grateful to have found this recipe.
Leetle October 6, 2014
Yum Yum... So tasty!
mstv August 8, 2014
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.
Sara G. May 11, 2014
I've only made the dressing from this recipe, but it is wonderful. With mixed greens, goat cheese, spiced pecans...marvellous.
Marti July 19, 2020
Great idea!!
Chris G. May 9, 2014
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.
za'atar November 18, 2013
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.
Loredona November 7, 2013
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!!
Author Comment
wanderash November 15, 2013
love the idea of the spicy pecans-- i am going to try that. The blue cheese is a pairing we have enjoyed too. yummy!
AntoniaJames October 4, 2013
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)
Author Comment
wanderash November 15, 2013
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.
Two T. October 4, 2013
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!
AntoniaJames October 4, 2013
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)
piacere February 18, 2013
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!
Ham December 23, 2012
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.