Sunday, January 19, 2014

Spinach Salad with Sweet/Spicy Nuts, Apples, Feta, and Bacon

This is a wonderfully adaptable salad to just about any meal.  Great with fish and seafood, chicken, beef, pork.  Or add some grilled chicken or shrimp and make it an entree salad.  I have a basic vinaigrette I keep on hand which I used, but there is a recipe below.  Use your favorite or best in-season apple (Fujis are great right now).  Choice walnuts or pecans (I always go with pecans!)  This is simply a great basic salad which should be in your menu rotation at least a few times every month.


16 oz baby spinach
1/2 small red onion, slivered
6 slices applewood smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled or chopped into small pieces
1 cup Feta cheese crumbles, more or less to taste
1 cup dried cranberries or cherries, more or less to taste
1-2 apples, cored, and sliced thin

Sweet Spicy Nuts:
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/3 cup granulated sugar
pinch of cayenne (more to taste if you want)
pinch of salt

Red Wine Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup EVOO
1 tsp minced garlic
1-2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt, more or less to taste
coarsely ground black pepper

For the dressing shake all the ingredients together in a mason jar until well-combined or run them through a quick blender cycle.  Store in the fridge until ready to serve.  The dressing can be make up to a week in advance.

For the nuts lightly toast the nuts in a 350F oven for 8-10 minutes, checking often so they don't burn.  While they toast, place the sugar, cayenne, and salt in a skillet over medium-low heat.  Cook the sugar mixture until it liquifies completely, adjusting the heat so it doesn't bubble and burn.  Toss in the toasted nuts and stir to coat the nuts with sugar.  Let the sugared nuts cool completely.

To assemble the salad toss all the salad ingredients together along with the cooled nuts.  Serve immediately with the vinaigrette alongside. 

NOTE: All the components can be measured out/prepped ahead of time and stored separately.  You can soak the apples in a bit of lemon juice in water to help prevent browning.  Just toss right before serving.

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