Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Perfect Autumnal Salad, Cape Cod Chop Salad with Maple Citrus Dressing

I'm genuinely tickled to share with you my all-time favorite salad!  It's chock full of delicious sweet and salty ingredients with a to-die-for easy homemade dressing!

First, I just have to say what a gorgeous week it has been around here in small-town Kentucky.  The last several days have had no summertime humidity and the skies have been clear blue like we usually see on October days.  Every night has been down-right chilly making for a perfectly brisk morning that just beckons me to my first cup of hot coffee and my fluffiest robe.

I've enjoyed some time at home by myself today as this is one of two days out of the week that both of our children are in school.  Usually I make sure parts of these days are filled with both productivity and some leisurely quiet time that I just don't have with my bustling family around.  I need time to reflect or do what I like to do, such as practicing piano and singing, or even listening to worship music. Micheal Buble, or Kenny G on Pandora with a good book.

You know, there are times for peace and stillness and times for a joyful noise and a loved-in house with messes and chaos.  I just try my best to have a little balance of both-- if possible.  :)

It's not always possible!

As you see above, I opened some windows and my patio sliding doors to allow a nice morning breeze to come in here across our family room. It was just enough to rustle my curtains and make me feel like the seasons are really turning!  It's invigorating to feel a rush of cool air around the home, but especially when the smell of fall candles are in the air. Awww, my happy place!

I also looked through this beautiful cookbook, Seasons In the South, my Grandmother has let me borrow.  Oh my, how I wish I could make every single recipe in here!!  The words are also inspiring about each season and what to look forward to.  I just starting the fall season, so I'm anxious to read what new recipes I'll decide to give a go!  I identify with the south greatly in my cooking style and lifestyle so I'm drawn to anything like this.

This recipe on the other hand isn't Southern, but too good not to love!  It's inspired by Ina Garten's Cape Cod salad in her cookbook (my fave) Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics.  I've just about worn the pages of this cookbook out over the past 5 years, because I've honestly loved every recipe I've made from here.  This is only "recipe" I've made for a salad, but it's worth every effort!

I put my twist on this delightful salad and that's what I'm sharing with you today! My version of Cape Cod salad.  Of course, I had to add pecans instead of just walnuts because after all, I am a Southern girl.

The salad has a delicious base of spinach and romaine and is filled with things like granny smith apple, peppered bacon (just sprinkle bacon with pepper before baking), dried cranberries, pecans, and creamy goat cheese.  I added blueberries because I had them and they're beautiful in here, and I added homemade croutons. 

My husband never has gone on about a salad, except for this one!  That's why I surprised him with it today when he came home for lunch.  The salad dressing is one of our favorite parts because it's sweet and tangy, so don't leave it out!

Cape Cod salad would be a beautiful and impressive addition to your Sunday meal or just one it's own like we had today.  It pairs lovely with soup and is sure to please even the most hearty eater in your home!  Let me know what you think.

Cape Cod Chop Salad

8 oz. (about 6 slices) peppered bacon (Here is my favorite method to cook it.)
8 oz. (about 3 cups) your favorite greens, I use spinach and romaine or butter lettuce
1 large Granny Smith apple, diced
1/2 c. pecans, toasted and chopped roughly (To toast carefully heat over med-low in a skillet with stirring for 5-6 minutes)
1/3 dried cranberries
1/4 c. fresh blueberries
6 oz. goat cheese, crumbled (Ina used blue cheese)
Homemade Croutons (Chop any bread or bun and toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Bake in a dish on 375 F. for 12-18 minutes, stirring once.)

Maple Citrus Dressing

3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. grated orange zest
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice (This is well worth the effort, although I've used regular orange juice before, too.)
2 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup (If you don't have the real deal, treat yourself to it for the fall!)
1 Tbsp. green onion or chives, chopped
Sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2/3 c. extra virgin olive oil (I used about 1/2 cup instead.)

In a large bowl, put the chopped lettuce and spinach leaves, green apple, nuts, cranberries, blueberries, chopped bacon, croutons, and goat cheese.

For the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, orange zest and the next 6 ingredients in a medium bowl.  While whisking slowly add the olive oil until well incorporated.  You may have to whisk this again just before serving.

Pour most of the dressing over the salad and toss all together well.  I didn't use all the dressing, but it keeps well in a jar in the fridge for a week or so. 

Let everyone help themselves or serve individually as a beautiful presentation.  You may top it with extra cheese crumbles or green onion for garnish!

One more thing.....

Here is a little peak of our view beyond the salad and table at lunch.  Our yard is like a retreat for us to admire when we eat!  All of this green shall soon be replace with colorful leaves, so you'll be seeing more of that to come.


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