I married into a family that changed the way I looked at salad. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up with great salads filled with colors and flavors.
But when I had my father-in-law’s salad for the first time, it was a bit of a head scratcher in the mid-90’s.
Raw broccoli, raw green beans, apple slices, seeds, nuts, anything from the crisper or the bowl on the table was fair game to end up on the plate coated in an apple cider vinaigrette.
An apple cider vinaigrette?
“It tastes good and apple cider vinegar fights arthritis.”
To put all of that into context, this was only a couple of years into Friends being on the air, and I still had big 80’s hair.
So, that laissez-faire attitude toward salad was a little puzzling.
I thought salads were on the side with greens from the garden, tomatoes, onions, croutons, and Italian salad dressing. Maybe some ranch dressing. Or, even better, a maple vinaigrette.
And croutons and bacon bits.
I thought about all of that today when I was pulling ingredients that wanted to be used from the crisper, leftovers from the middle rack of the fridge, maple syrup from my Aunt and Uncle, and the bowls of vegetables on the table.
“Let’s make a salad.”
It has all the components that I love.
Random vegetables, fruit, and bacon.
I was out of bread though, so no croutons. But that’s okay. I had cooked quinoa, and that provided a little subtle crunch that was perfect.
This is a fun marriage of the salads of my childhood, with the ones I’ve grown to love since then.
Happy, happy, salads.
Maple Pepper Bacon
Yield: 4 slices.
4 slices thick cut bacon
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 teaspoons coarsely cracked gourmet peppercorns
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place bacon on a rack in a baking pan fitted with aluminum foil and bake for 10 minutes.
Brush bacon with maple syrup and sprinkle with pepper.
Bake for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until cooked to preferred doneness.
Let drain on paper towels, and reserve.
Yield: 2 ½ cups
1 cup red quinoa
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh sieve under cold water.
Place rinsed quinoa in a medium saucepan with broth, parsley, onion powder, and garlic powder.
Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, cover, and reduce heat to low.
Cook for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes.
Fit a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Spread the hot quinoa out on the baking sheet to let it cool.
Fall Fig Salad with Pomegranates
3 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
¼ cup pomegranate seeds
4 figs, halved
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
Maple pepper bacon
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 teaspoons diced shallots
1 teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together.
Toss spinach, pomegranates, figs, shallot, and bacon together with desired amount of cooked quinoa.
Drizzle with vinaigrette.
(Photos by Launie Kettler)