The best damn salad.
Alright. I said it. It is, this is the best damn salad for autumn and holidays, in my not-so-humble opinion. It has bacon (I used turkey bacon). The bacon is cooked in maple syrup. There is blue cheese. Pecans (which are toasted with cinnamon). Dried cranberries. Sweet Potatoes. Spinach. It's crunchy, salty, sweet, and tart (because of a citrus vinaigrette), and it's something you should try.
**VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: JUST in case salad is NOT your thing...make the sweet potatoes with the toasted pecans and maple bacon as a side dish for dinner. I have sectioned out the cooking instructions in case you want to do that. You'll thank me later!**
Serves 6-8 as first course or a side
For the salad
- 1 bag of fresh baby spinach
- 1, 6 ounce bag of pecans (shelled)
- 1 tsp of cinnamon
- 1/2 cup of crumbled blue cheese
- 5 slices of turkey bacon. You totally could use regular bacon, but full disclosure, I don't cook it so the instructions below are for turkey bacon
- 2 tablespoons of dark maple syrup
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
For the dressing
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1 tablespoon of orange zest
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small pan over medium low heat, toast the pecans with the cinnamon for 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Chop the turkey bacon into bite sized pieces. In a medium pan over medium low heat, cook the turkey bacon. When the turkey bacon starts to look crispy (after about 5-10 minutes depending on thickness of the turkey bacon and size of the pan), add the maple syrup and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Sweet potato instructions
Clean and dry the sweet potatoes and cut into chunks. These do not have to be perfectly symmetrical. I actually like this salad a little rustic looking. Place on a baking sheet and toss the potato with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place into preheated oven for approximately 20-30 minutes until fork tender. Set aside to cool.
Whisk all dressing ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more citrus if you'd like.
In a bowl, arrange the spinach and toss with 1/2 of the dressing. On top of the spinach, arrange the ingredients into sections. One fourth for the dried cranberries, one forth for the pecans, one forth for the blue cheese and one forth for the sweet potatoes. Crumble bacon pieces on top of salad and drizzle with the remainder of the salad dressing. Bon Appetite!