Friday, November 12, 2010

Fall Salad with Pumpkin Croutons and Maple Vinaigarette

   Remember those pumpkin muffins from yesterday?  Here is an awesome way to use left over muffins that have gotten a little stale.  They don't have to be stale, fresh ones work just as well.  This would also work with left over pumpkin bread as long as it isn't extremely sweet.  The apples are really delicious in this salad.  We used a Winesap apple which is sweet with just a little tartness (not as much as a Granny Smith.)  Gala or breaburn would also be great.  When my mom suggested a maple vinaigrette, I hesitated and all those horribly sweet, sugary dressings (that sound fantastic in words)that I have tried in my life came flooding into my memory:  repulsive raspberry vinaigrettes, orange concoctions, ghastly ginger dressings, and (*gag*) honey-mustard.  I have found good varieties of all these, but some..... some make me want to swear of salad just thinking about them.  This dressing isn't too sweet, trust me.  The cider vinegar and dijon balance it out very nicely      

Fall Salad with Pumpkin Croutons
2 slices bacon, chopped (optional)*
2 pumpkin muffins, cut into small cubes
1/2 Tbsp butter
1/2 C toasted walnuts, chopped
1 small firm fleshed apple, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
8-10 oz mixed field greens (or you favorite kind of lettuce)

   Render bacon until crisp.  Remove bacon from pan, add butter to bacon drippings.  Toss cubed muffins in bacon fat and butter.  Spread on a baking sheet
   *If you are not using bacon, melt 1 1/2-2 Tbsp butter and toss the muffin cubes in it. 
   Bake 350 deg F for 15-20 min.  Tossing every 5 minutes.  The outside should be lightly crispy and in the inside still tender.
   Toss apples, lettuce and onion together with a little bit of the vinaigarette.  Plate and top with walnuts, croutons, and bacon.  Add extra dressing if needed.
4 large side salad servings .

Maple Vinaigrette
1/4 C cider or red wine vinegar
1/3 C extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp real maple syrup
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp thyme
salt and pepper

   Whisk together all ingredients.  Or shake them in a small jar.  Salt and pepper to taste.
   ~8 servings

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