Maple syrup is not just for breakfast anymore, though it is associated with one of Northeastern Pennsylvania's winter comfort foods: pancakes. This week, I have a great recipe that goes in the opposite direction, making this Winter Salad a great choice as it will awaken your tastebuds with the combination of fresh, seasonal ingredients. You might choose to add your favorite protein to this salad for an awesome luncheon salad or simply enjoy it as part of your dinner.
I selected some traditional spinach-salad components, such as baby spinach, hard-boiled eggs and bacon, because everything is better with bacon. Then I added bananas, which are a great contrast in a salad due to their flavor and texture.
I also added dried cranberries, which are a wonderful seasonal ingredient, as well as candied pecans for a little crunch. To make this salad extra-special, I used potato croutons, which are a good alternative to traditional bread croutons. They are gluten free, if that is a concern.
Blend all these ingredients together with the maple balsamic vinaigrette, and even meat-and-potatoes people will enjoy this salad. The subtle sweetness from the maple syrup blends perfectly with the balsamic vinegar. It truly is elegant comfort food.
If you would like this salad prepared for you, we will offer the Winter Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette at Vanderlyn's Restaurant beginning today for lunch service. For reservations or additional features call Vanderlyn's at 283-6260. Our website is www.vanderlyns.com
Yield: 4 servings
4 ounces balsamic vinegar
2 ounces pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
8 ounces extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup pecans
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 baking potatoes, small dice, 1/4-inch by 1/4-inch
Salt and pepper, to taste
12 ounces baby spinach
1 banana, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 hard-boiled eggs
12 slices bacon, cooked until crisp
1. Place vinegar and maple syrup in a blender.
2. Pulse to combine ingredients, then with blender running, slowly add oil in a steady stream until fully incorporated; season with salt and pepper. Reserve for plating.
1. Rinse pecans with hot water and drain. Toss with sugar until completely coated, then place on parchment-paper-lined baking pan and bake in 275 F oven for 30 minutes or until lightly browned with a hardened sugar coating. Cool completely and reserve for plating.
1. Deep-fry potatoes in 350-degree oil until golden brown and season with salt and pepper. Cool completely and reserve for plating.
PLATING OF SALAD
1. Combine spinach, bananas, dried cranberries, hard-boiled eggs and candied pecans in a mixing bowl. Add vinaigrette and toss to coat all ingredients evenly.
2. Place salad on chilled plate, sprinkle with potato croutons and top with warm strips of bacon and enjoy.
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