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Not-Too-Virtuous Apple Salad

February 23, 2011

I know there are a million recipes for fancy salads, but this one is unique because you make a thick dressing with cooked apples and apple cider

not too virtuous apple salad

vinegar, which makes it really hearty.  Contrasted with salty roasted pecans and crunch fennel and celery root, it’s a unique salad.  I sauteed the celery root and fennel a bit to take a little edge off, but you can leave it raw.  I didn’t use the bacon, and it was fine without, and I think you can add a nice gorgonzola cheese for some additional contrast in flavors.  This is a great entertaining salad for winter.  This recipe is adapted from Food52 and serves 6 as a first course.

Ingredients:

For the salad:

6 handfuls mixed greens, about 6 oz.

1/2 celery root, peeled and very thinly sliced or cut into matchsticks

1/2 fennel bulb, very thinly sliced

3/4 cups pecans, roasted salted

5 slices lardons or thick cut bacon, cut into lardons (optional)

1 tart apple, thinly sliced into half moons

For the caramelized apple vinaigrette:

2 T brown sugar

4 T apple cider vinegar, divided

1 clove garlic, minced

1 gala apple, peeled, cored and medium diced

1 lemon

1/4 c olive oil

2 T canola oil

1 t fresh thyme

salt

Directions:

Cook lardons (if using) in a skillet over medium heat until crisp and drain on a paper towel.

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.  Add the apples and garlic and sauté until the apples are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.  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.

Heat a tiny bit of olive oil in a skillet and cook sliced celery root and fennel over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until barely tender.  Set aside.

Toss salad greens with dressing, then top with celery root and fennels, pecans, sliced apples and lardons (if using) and optional cheese.  Serve immediately.

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