This salad is worth every bit of the labor it takes to make it. Seriously! It is the spinach salad of ALL spinach salads! It’s got sweet, savory, salty and zesty flavors that work together to make a party in your mouth! I bring this to summer barbecues and serve it to dinner guests alike. Mel over at melskitchencafe.com first introduced me to a version of this salad. I have altered hers so many times that it has my little stamp on it. Everyone LOVES this salad. I hope you do too. Enjoy!
Apple and Bacon Spinach Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Salad 16 ounces fresh Spinach
1 Gala or Honey Crisp Apple, diced*
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries
1/4 Cup Red Onion, sliced thin
1/4 Cup Bacon Pieces*
1/2 Cup Feta Cheese Crumbles
Seasoned Glazed Walnuts 1 Cup Walnut Halves
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
Dash Cayenne Pepper
Balsamic Vinaigrette 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1/3 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh minced Garlic*
salt and pepper to taste
Directions: 1. Warm a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Place onion slices in the pan and cover with a lid. Steep the onions until they become tender. Mix occasionally to prevent scorching. You may need to also add a couple drips of water. This helps take the zing out of the onions without losing their flavor. Let cool on a cutting board.
2. Meanwhile, combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a mason jar. With a tight-fitting lid, shake until well-combined. Set aside.
3. Over medium-high heat, warm sugar, salt and cayenne pepper in a nonstick pan until the sugar begins to melt. Give it a little mix until all the sugar has melted. Remove from heat and add the walnuts. Stir until nuts are coated.
4. Let the nuts cool on a cutting board before chopping into pea-sized pieces.
5. Using a large mixing bowl, mix spinach with just 1/3 cup dressing. (A bigger mixing bowl allows for more space to get every leaf of spinach coated with dressing.
6. Top spinach with remaining salad ingredients and glazed nuts. Drizzle another tablespoon or two of dressing before serving.
Makes 8 to 10 side servings.
*Notes: I have subbed out the apples for pears, plums or peaches in the past and each is delicious! You can be flexible with the fruit you use. My favorite way to have bacon is in the form of Real Hormel Bacon Pieces (see link below.) I will forever and always have a problem with the smell that lingers in my kitchen after cooking bacon. This is the best kind I have tasted, because it’s the real stuff. So that’s that. Also, if I have some on hand, I like to use garlic-infused olive oil to make this dressing because it saves me a step and tastes just as good.