Saturday, February 22, 2014

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

This salad is super yummy!  The bacon, cheese, apples, and sweet spicy nuts ,etc are a delicious combination.  Slightly adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  Served with grilled chicken it's a great entree.

Salad:

16 ounces baby spinach
½ small red onion, slivered
6 slices of 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 crisp apples, cored and sliced thin

Sweet Spicy Nuts:

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
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 extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, pressed or finely minced
1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, more or less to taste
Fresh cracked pepper to taste

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 refrigerator until ready to serve. The dressing can be made up to a week in advance.

For the nuts, lightly toast the nuts in a 350 degree 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….this takes awhile but you have to watch it.  When it starts to liquefy it happens fast and can quickly burn.  Quickly toss in the toasted nuts and stir to coat the nuts with sugar.   Spread out on waxed paper and 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 on the side.

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