Although I miss the farm stands of summer, I am reveling in the fall. My favorite fruit (apples) and vegetables (any and all winter squash and sweet potatoes) are in season, and I'm packing them into every meal.
This salad is a fresh way to highlight the flavors of fall. Crisp, tangy apples and sweet, crunchy pecans pair perfectly with maple vinaigrette. Sometimes I'm lazy about making dressings--I'm a big fan of just drizzling olive oil and balsamic vinegar over my greens--but it was worth the few extra steps to make this delicious dressing. Not too tangy, not too sweet, just a perfect complement to the rest of the salad.
Fall Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
Adapted from The Food Network
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/4 cups pecans
Heat butter and brown sugar in a large, non-stick skillet over medium until it melts. Add pecans and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Pour pecans onto wax paper and separate them with a fork. Allow pecans to cool completely.
Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons maple syrup (NOT pancake syrup)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Place mustard, vinegar, maple syrup, and oil in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
1 head red leaf lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 apple, thinly sliced
Place lettuce, apple, and cooled caramelized pecans in a large bowl. Top with vinaigrette to taste. (If you have leftover vinaigrette, save it in the fridge to use another day.)
*This is a generous amount of pecans for this salad, but we realllly like caramelized pecans at our house. If you don't use them all in the salad, they're great to munch straight!