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Monday, September 30, 2013

Autumn Salad with Caramelized Apple Vinaigrette

Autumn Salad with Caramelized Apple Vinaigrette

Autumn Salad with Caramelized Apple Vinaigrette
by Victoria Challancin

The change of seasons from summer to fall brings magic.  Here in San Miguel de Allende, we may not enjoy the staggering glory of changing leaves, but we do have a mountainous landscape that fills with yellow insanity as the sunflowers, arnica montana, and various daisies clamor over each other in a riot of joyous color each fall.  Magic.  Pure magic.

I keep hoping to have time to seriously photograph the wildflowers, which are at their prime right now, but life keeps getting in the way.  A very sick pup and other various calamities are claiming my time--time willingly given, of course.

In my new cooking course I promised to ease into fall recipes as cooler weather is approaching.  Well, it should be approaching.  Mainly, we are still enjoying much needed rains and the not so welcome lightening and thunderstorms that oft accompany them.  As an seque into autumnal fare, last week in class we prepared a chicken "bouillabaisse" with a salad dressed with caramelized apple vinaigrette. Food heaven!  

I had to alter the ingredients of the salad from the ever-inspiring Food52 to work with the available produce found here in San Miguel.  I bought a couple of bags of mixed organic lettuces, which happily included some mache and other sprightly greens.  Instead of celery root, I used jícama.  And to make it vegetarian, I omitted the bacon.  No matter what ingredients you include in the salad itself (suggestions:  roasted butternut squash or pumpkin, gorgonzola cheese, roasted or unroasted pears, pomegranate seeds, raisins, dates, dried cranberries, toasted pumpkin seeds), it is the dressing that is the real star.

Simple to prepare, this vinaigrette is richly flavored with a nice depth.  Somehow I forgot to take a picture of the dressing itself, but the resulting vinaigrette is the soft brown color of the caramelized apples.  Garlic and fresh thyme round out the flavors.  I will definitely use this recipe again and again.

Autumn Salad with Caramelized Apple Vinaigrette

Cook's Notes:  The original salad calls for celery root, which, though it made an appearance on the organic food scene a couple of years ago, I can sadly no longer find it here in San Miguel. Sniff, sniff.
I substituted Mexico's ubiquitous jícama instead.  The fennel bulbs (2) we used were so tiny that two barely made the equivalent of one.  I also chose to make this vegetarian by leaving out the lardons/bacon of the original recipe.  See my notes above for suggestions as how to customize the salad itself.  Below I will give you the salad as it appears on Food52.

Recipe:  Autumn Salad with Caramelized Apple Vinaigrette
(Based on this salad from
Serves 4 to 6

For the salad:
4 handfuls mixed greens, about 6 oz
1/4 celery root, peeled and very thinly sliced or cut into matchsticks
1 fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
3/4 cups pecans, toasted
5 slices lardons or thick-cut bacon, cut into lardons 
1 tart apple, thinly sliced into half moons

In a heavy skillet cook lardons over moderate heat.  Stir occasionally until crispy on all sides and reserve on a paper towel to drain fat.

Place all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl.  Pour 1/4 of the dressing over the salad and toss well.
Add more dressing according to taste.

Caramelized Apple Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 gala apple, peeled, cored, and cut into medium dice
1 lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a small skillet over medium heat add 3 ounces vinegar and the sugar.  Reduce until the color turns a dark caramel color and it begins to thicken.

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

Remove from heat and put in the blender with 1 ounce more vinegar, thyme, juice of 1/2 lemon and a pinch of salt.  Blend, slowing adding the oil through the top of the blender.  Blend until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, and vinegar as required.

Parting Shot:

© Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.

Please ask permission before using text or photos.  Thanks!


Hotly Spiced said...

I love your salad tongs. I used to have some that were very similar but I seem to have lost them. Where could they have gone??? I love how this salad has apple cider vinegar in the dressing. It's so good for you. I would love to make this salad but I think I would add the bacon batons! xx

Joan Nova said...

Wonderful salad. I would eat the whole bowl.

Eha said...

Well, it may be spring here with a vengeance of over 30 C days, but there is nothing to stop me making this beautifully colourful salad and trying your apple vinaigrette: have never prepped a dressing quite like that! Never mind the lardons ~ would love to look in the mirror again and smile at what I see! Like your salad 'hand' also and absolutely love that last photo :)!

Eha said...

Just reread your post and realized I had not asked which pup and what is wrong? Not Angus following the paw incident . . . am holding everything crossed for whoever . . . and you!

Victoria Challancin said...

It is Angus. He took antibiotics for the cut on his paw, but now it turns out he has a liver infection. I am worried sick and trying to tempt him to eat all kinds of morsels, but nothing. As long as I can get his pills down him. Send him some love, please.

Eha said...

Nonstop love crossing the ocean: and prayers! . . . and love to you . . .Eha

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I'm sorry to hear about your sick pup-wishing them a speedy recovery! And yes time poor meals like this that are delicious at the same time are a saviour! :D

CQUEK said...

Well I’m ready for some.

Unknown said...

Salads are something i am trying to eat more of so I am always on the look out for new ways to have my veggies. This looks wonderful