Oh, Ina. I cannot tell you how much I love your barefoot contessa cookbooks. I received this cookbook Back to Basics this past year for the holidays. One copy from my future aunt-in-law and another copy from my future sister-in-law. Great minds must think alike because I couldn’t have been happier than to receive this cookbook as a gift – twice. And since my fiance and I live in two different cities I have a copy for each place. Perfect.
This cape cod chopped salad is, like many of Ina’s recipes, as delicious as it is beautiful to look at. The combination of apples with bacon and blue cheese is a great one. Toasted walnuts add depth of flavor and I love the sweetness of the dressing accentuated by the dried cranberries. I like the salad with arugula because it adds an interesting flavor but mixed greens would be equally good here.
The dressing on this salad is unique. Orange juice and maple syrup add sweetness while the apple cider vinegar brings a hint of fall. And, since it calls for Granny Smith apples that are just now showing up at Farmer’s Markets, this salad couldn’t be better suited for this time of year. I love a large plate of it for lunch (and so does Ina, as a matter of fact) but it is certainly fancy enough to serve to guests. And because it is the orange zest that makes this salad fancy, this is the perfect opportunity to buy that microplane zester you’ve always wanted.
I usually make a half recipe for myself and get two nice sized salads out of it. I enjoy half right away and then store the various parts separately in the fridge overnight and assemble just before I eat it. I’ve included the full recipe below, just as it appears in Ina’s book. There’s just one thing I do differently (and please don’t tell Ina) – I use the grocery store brand apple cider vinegar and olive oil. It probably isn’t Ina’s idea of “good” but I’m ok with that because, when it’s all put together, everything else about this salad is better than good. It’s really great.
Cape Cod Chopped Salad
Yield: 4-5 larger salads
8 oz. thick-cut bacon
8 oz. baby arugula
1 large Granny Smith apple, diced
1/2 cup toasted walnut halves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
6 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
For the Dressing:
3 T good apple cider vinegar
1 t grated orange zest
2 T freshly squeezed orange juice
2 1/2 t Dijon mustard
2 T pure maple syrup
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup good olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and lay the bacon slices on the rack. Roast the bacon for about 20 minutes, until nicely browned. Allow to cool.
While the bacon is roasting toss together the arugula, apple, walnuts, cranberries, and blue cheese in a large bowl.
For the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, orange zest, orange juice, mustard, maple syrup, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper in a small bowl (or, my favorite, a large mixing cup). Slowly whisk in the olive oil.
Chop the bacon in large pieces and add it to the salad. Toss the salad with just enough dressing to moisten. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss well. Serve immediately.
Source: Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten