Do you ever get into a salad rut? It’s so easy to think of salad as an afterthought, as just a side dish to go along with whatever we’re serving, that we’re all probably guilty of serving the same boring green salad a few too many times. But this salad, my friends, is anything but boring. Instead, it’s a salad to look forward to – the perfect combination of salty and sweet, with a whole lot of crunch and a maple-dijon dressing that’s not to be missed. It’s just the thing to shake up your salad routine.
This salad has a bit of a fall-flavor thing going on, but there’s no heavy-handed pumpkin involved. It’s more of a low key autumnal celebration… It starts with a bed of spinach that’s topped with plenty of crisp, juicy apples, tart dried cranberries, crunchy pecans, and some blue cheese for saltiness. Oh, and bacon. Because there’s always room for bacon.
You get saltiness from the bacon and blue cheese balanced by the sweet crispness of the chopped apples. I like Honeycrisp here, but Pink Lady, Gala, Cripps Pink, or even Fuji would work well too. Really, any pink variety will do! They’re all crisp and sweet with just the subtlest hint of tartness. The pecans back up their crunch while the cranberries echo that tart note. It’s true salad synergy.
If you want to swap out the spinach for some other greens, or walnuts for pecans, or leave out the blue cheese… go for it. You do you. But don’t even think of swapping out the dressing. It’s a quick vinaigrette that starts with olive oil and relies on apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard for its acid, which yes, is pretty standard. But that is backed by the mellow, gentle sweetness of maple syrup and the whole thing comes together like a cozy little autumnal hug for the rest of the ingredients. Like I said, not to be missed!
Apple Pecan Harvest Salad
Serves 4; 10 minutes
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 2 Honeycrisp apples, chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup pecan halves
- 1/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled
- 4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
- For the dressing:
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Add the spinach to a large serving bowl.
- Top with apples, cranberries, pecans, blue cheese, and bacon.
- In a mason jar, combine the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper. Shake to combine.
- Pour over salad, and enjoy!