Apple Bacon Spinach Salad

bacon spinach salad

I can just about guarantee we’re not going to be gifted with an Indian Summer this year; I can smell fall in the air already. The trees have begun to turn colours here and there, and while we had a *SURPRISE* hot couple of days finally, in the evening the temperatures are chilly. School starts next week, and apple season in Ontario begins right shortly. 

Apples are a staple at my house. I’m more of a citrus gal, myself, but my family are hardcore apple fans. Every year we’ll plow through a giant pile of apples. I’ll make apple butter, apple sauce, slice and freeze them for pies, spend weeks dehydrating apple rings for snacks and homemade instant apple-cinnamon oatmeal. And then of course, we’ll consume a second giant pile fresh.

Preferably when they’re straight from the orchard.

Spinach Salad with Apple Bacon and Maple Viniagrette

 One of the most important lessons that I’ve learned as a food blogger is how bacon’s popularity with just about everybody is second only to its versatility. I have paired bacon with some amazing stuff including chocolate, vodka, coffee, and maple syrup. Yes, bacon goes awesome with sweet stuff. Who knew?

Apples and maple syrup? Bacon got ‘dis.

Bacon contains the magic of what the Japanese call umami: the taste of savory. It’s that mouth-watering, rich meaty flavour that stimulates the back of the throat and mouth that makes everybody crazy for more. 

Apple bacon spinach salad

Who says you have to serve a boring, store-bought Greek or garden salad at your end-of-season BBQs?  This fast-prep, lovely little spinach side-salad is topped with crisp tart apples, bacon, mushrooms, and caramelized onions. It’s dressed with a bold sweet-tart apple cider vinegar and maple syrup vinaigrette. It’s a whisper of fall, the fun of summer, and a flavour roundhouse kick to the face. 

 Best of all, it comes together in under 15 minutes. 

Apple Bacon Spinach Salad
Serves 4
A spinach salad with apple, bacon, caramelized onions, mushrooms, and a maple vinaigrette.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 slices bacon
  2. 1 small red onion
  3. 5-6 mushrooms, sliced
  4. 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  5. 1/4 cup maple syrup
  6. 2 crisp apples, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
  7. 8 cups washed and torn spinach leaves
Instructions
  1. In a medium sized frying pan, cook the bacon until it reaches desired doneness. Remove and drain.
  2. Add onion and mushrooms to the bacon drippings, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. While onions are cooking, chop the bacon and set aside, and slice apple.
  4. Once onion is done cooking, add the bacon back to the pan, add the maple syrup and apple cider vinegar. Boil it for 1 minute, and remove from heat to cool slightly.
  5. Plate the spinach and apple individually and spoon warm dressing over plates, or serve in a salad bowl, tossed with the dressing. Serve immediately.
Life In Pleasantville http://www.lifeinpleasantville.com/
 See you in the orchard!

 

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Easy Taco Salad Recipe

easy taco salad

Sometimes you feel like making a big involved meal and sometimes you just want a break. This Taco Salad recipe is a go-to around here for when I don’t want to sacrifice taste for convenience. For my final Life Made Delicious post, I thought it was worth reminding you that dinner doesn’t need to be complicated to be delicious. Old El Paso is the star of this show, so make sure you pick some up for the next night you feel like a fiesta without all the work that goes into it.

Easy Taco Salad Recipe

Old El Paso Smart Fiesta Taco Seasoning
Old El Paso Mexican Rice
1 head of romaine lettuce, cleaned and chopped
1 medium jalapeno
1 small onion
small can black beans
1 lb ground beef

Cook beef according to package directions on back of seasoning mix. Start rice, and while it’s cooking saute chopped onion and jalapeno until soft. Rinse beans. Just before rice is done add onions, jalapeno and beans and cook through until beans are warm. Layer chopped lettuce in bowl, add rice, then beef on top. Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, salsa, fresh cilantro and Holy Guacamole on top.

Special thanks to General Mills, Life Made Delcious and Mom Central for including me in this program for the last year. It’s been a great ride. If you’d like too see other amazing Life Made Delicious posts from the last year check out this fantastic Pinterest board with pins from some of Canada’s best bloggers. You’re guaranteed to find some recipe inspiration there for those nights when you have time to dwell in the kitchen and for the nights when you need something fast!

Disclosure: I am part of the Life Made Delicious Blogger program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

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Steak Salad with Blue Cheese Horseradish Dressing

Steak Salad with Blue Cheese Horseradish Dressing. Sort of just rolls off the tongue doesn’t it? Probably because there is so much that’s right about this salad, like steak cooked to your liking (I like mine run through a warm room), paired with blue cheese and horseradish, both perfectly suited for steak and crisp green salad with juicy cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber and red onion. Not to mention this salad is ridiculously easy to put together AND it’s also impressive company fare.

Yeah, this Steak Salad with Blue Cheese Horseradish Dressing pretty much has it all going on. Pair it with a nice Cabernet Sauvignon, like Santa Carolina or Liberty School and it’s a party.

steak salad with blue cheese horseradish dressing

Steak Salad with Blue Cheese Horseradish Dressing

1 1/2 pounds flank steak
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsps prepared horseradish
1 tbsp lemon juice
2/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
6 cups romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite size pieces
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 baby cucumbers, sliced
1/2 cup red onion, sliced thinly

In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, mayonnaise, horseradish, lemon juice, blue cheese and pepper. Season with salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready.

Season the beef with salt and pepper and let come to room temperature. Grill the steak to your liking. Remove from heat and tent with foil to let rest for 10 minutes. Slice on the diagonal into strips.

While steak is resting, toss the lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and red onion with the blue cheese horseradish dressing. Top with sliced steak and serve immediately. (Serves 6)

Pleasantville Note: Any steak works well with this. Flank is great steak and very budget-friendly when serving a crowd. If you really love them though, you can also try sliced beef tenderloin on top.

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Crunchy Asian Sesame Salad

Every time I make this Crunchy Asian Sesame Salad, I say to myself, “Self, why don’t you make this more often?!”. This salad is quite possibly my favourite green salad but since picking a favourite recipe is like picking a favourite child I remain firmly non-committal on the topic.

asian sesame salad

What I really love about this Crunchy Asian Sesame Salad is that it’s perfect as a side with so much. It’s great with steak or fish, and I love it all on it’s own for lunch!

Crunchy Asian Sesame Salad

Two large heads of green leaf lettuce (or one green/one red — you’re the boss)
1 package ramen noodles
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1/3 cup cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp soya sauce
1/3 cup canola oil

About an hour ahead of putting salad together, whisk sugar, vinegar, soya sauce and oil together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil for 1 minute, remove from heat and let cool. In the meantime, in a dry stainless steel pan roast sesame seeds, broken up ramen noodles (uncooked and discard flavouring) and sesame seeds over medium-heat, tossing constantly until lightly toasted. Remove from heat and let cool. Wash and spin leaf lettuce very dry. Toss lettuce and dressing together and sprinkle with crunchy mixture. Serve immediately.

Pleasantville Note: The drier your lettuce is the better. Any salad dressing you toss with it will stick to the leaves better. This makes enough for eight. Normally what I do is spread it over two days, dividing the dressing in half and setting aside for our next meal.

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Strawberry Romaine Salad

This recipe for Strawberry Romaine Salad was ripped from a magazine (sorry, no name on the page) many moons ago and thrown in the “someday” pile. Feeling guilty that I’d neglected to try it for at least 5 years (yes, that’s how many “somedays” I have) I pulled it out and gave it a whirl. All I can say is, damn, I need to get through that pile quicker. This Strawberry Romaine Salad is incredible — the perfect mix of sweet and tang and I’d say an ideal summer salad.

I know though, you want to know what’s in it for you right? I hear you. Well how about strawberries are loaded with Vitamin C and help keep wrinkles away, and red onions help reduce the risk of stomach cancer! Shut the front door! I did not know that. Also knocking my socks off — a head of romaine lettuce contains more Vitamin C than an orange. Anybody else feel like their world has shifted? This is suddenly like a super salad, except of course when we throw the mayo and sugar on but let’s call that balance and move on.

strawberry romaine salad

Strawberry Romaine Salad

2 heads romaine lettuce

1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced

1 medium-size red onion, sliced thinly

2 tbsps sesame seeds

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 milk

2 tbsps vinegar

Toast sesame seeds in a dry frying pan on stovetop over medium-high heat, constantly shaking pan so they don’t burn. Set aside. Tear romaine lettuce into bite size pieces. Toss strawberries, onion and sesame seeds with lettuce in a large salad bowl. Whisk mayonnaise, sugar, milk and vinegar in a small bowl. Add to salad and toss just before serving.

Pleasantville Note: This salad makes 12 servings, so it’s definitely for a crowd. For weekday meals I cut everything in half. Place half the dressing in the refrigerator and have salad again the next day. I’ve shared the recipe exactly as written but you should know that I cut the sugar back slightly and it was fine. Also, if planning to make for a dinner party, make the dressing the day before.

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Classic Broccoli Salad

Spring is here and it’s salad time. Time for Dill Potato Salad, Green Goddess Dressing, Macaroni Salad, Chicken Salad, and this Classic Broccoli Salad which will knock your socks off.

Even those with severe vegetable phobias have been known to squeal with delight at the sight of this broccoli salad. Dibs for seconds happen before the first plate is handed out. I suspect it’s the magic ingredient bacon that does this, but really the combination of all the flavours in this salad make it divine. I have seen recipes for broccoli salad that add raisins, but I’m not a raisin lover and as such they don’t land in my salad (see below). You can however add sesame seeds for some crunch if you’d like or sliced almonds. This salad is also best if made a day ahead so that the ingredients really mix, which makes it an ideal salad for all the parties and barbecues you’ll be throwing this summer. Right?

classic broccoli salad

Classic Broccoli Salad

2 heads broccoli, washed and chopped into bite size pieces
1/2 of large red onion, chopped fine
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tbsp vinegar (white or cider)

Mix the broccoli, red onion, cheese and bacon together in a large bowl. Whisk together mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar and pour over broccoli salad. Stir well to combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight. I say this serves between 8 and 10, but if you hear someone squeal with delight upon seeing it, it’ll probably be less.

broccoli salad

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Kraft Fruit & Veg Dressing



I recently had the opportunity to test the new Kraft Fruit & Veg Dressings. What I love about these dressings is that they’re made with real fruits and vegetables, have no artificial flavors or colors and, most important in this post-heart attack home, is that they are also low in salt and fat.

I’m happy to share the recipes I tried with Kraft Fruit & Veg Dressings because they each have a bold, fresh taste that is perfect for salads, but also because I found them extremely versatile and perfect for so many other recipes. I tried these dressings with greens, which were delicious by the way, but I also set out to see what else I could use these dressings in.

So without further adieu, meet the versatile Kraft Fruit & Veg Dressings, perfect for salads and so much more.

Fire Roasted Tomato with Basil Roasted Vegetable Pasta

Kraft Fruit & Veg Dressing

1 lb fresh pasta
Assorted vegetables for roasting (I used eggplant, zucchini, red onion, tomatoes)
1/4 to 1/2 cup Kraft Fire Roasted Tomato with Basil Dressing
1 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Heat oven to 400F. Slice zucchini, eggplant, and red onion, and tomato in 1/2 inch slices. Drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt. Roast in oven 25 to 30 minutes or until brown and cooked through. Toss occasionally while in oven to ensure even roasting. About ten minutes before vegetables are done, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and throw in a large bowl. Remove vegetables from oven and cut larger pieces into bite size. Toss vegetables, pasta and dressing in bowl. Sprinkle crumbled goat cheese on top and serve immediately.

Kraft Fruit & Veg Dressing

Salad Option:Toss fresh watercress and cherry tomatoes with Kraft Fire Roasted Tomato with Basil. Serve with sliced baguette.

Roasted Yellow Pepper, Garlic & Lime Guacamole

Kraft Fruit & Veg Dressing

I actually took this recipe from the side of the bottle, since I’m a huge guacamole fan. Also, avocados, are good for the heart.

2 avocados, chopped
1/2 cup chopped roasted red pepper
1/3 cup Kraft Roasted Yellow Pepper, Garlic & Lime Dressing

Kraft Fruit & Veg Dressing Guacamole 2

Salad Option: Toss baby greens, chopped tomato, cucumber and a handful of cilantro with Kraft Roasted Yellow Pepper, Garlic and Lime Dressing.

Berry Balsamic Baked Goat Cheese Appetizer

Kraft Fruit & Veg Dressingn Goat Cheese Appetizer

Inspired by a recent trip, this recipe is a great appetizer and is extremely simple to make.

4 oz goat cheese
Half a square of store bought puff pastry
1 egg for egg wash
1 cup of each of Honeydew and Cantaloupe melons
8 tbsp Kraft Berry Balsamic Dressing

Preheat oven to 425F. Beat one egg with 1 tbsp water for egg wash. Wrap goat cheese log in pastry and place on rimmed baking sheet, seam side down. Brush with egg wash. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile drizzle 1 tbsp of Kraft Berry Balsamic Dressing on each plate, add a tablespoon each of Honeydew and Cantalouple melon. Slice log into 8 and place each piece on top of dressing and melon. Drizzle a little more dressing on top if you desire.

Kraft Fruit & Veg Dressing Goat Cheese Appetizer

Salad Option:Toss fresh baby spinach with halved strawberries, chopped walnuts, and red onion with Kraft Berry Balsamic.

Garlic Parmesan with Roasted Cauliflower Warm Potato Salad

Kraft Fruit & Veg Dressing Warm Potato Salad

3 lbs fingerling or baby potatoes
4 oz pancetta, diced
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
1/2 cup Kraft Garlic Parmesan with Roasted Cauliflower Dressing

Boil potatoes until soft. While potatoes are cooking, fry up pancetta until crisp. Drain potatoes and let cool slightly until you can handle them and then slice in half in a large bowl. Toss with crisp pancetta, green onions, dressing and Parmesan. Spoon onto plate and sprinkle a little more Parmesan on top before serving.

Kraft Fruit and Veg Dressing Warm Potato Salad 2

Salad Option:Try a traditional Caesar salad here with fresh, crisp romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese, bacon, and croutons tossed with Kraft Garlic Parmesan with Roasted Cauliflower.

 

Looking for some inspiration of your own? Kraft Canada has an incredible salad creator to help you come up with your own masterpiece.

Kraft_Logo_RGB

This is a sponsored post by Life in Pleasantville on behalf of Kraft Canada.

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Dill Potato Salad

I’m all over this Dill Potato Salad from the Barefoot Contessa this summer. I think it’s better served slightly warm or at room temperature, but tastes delicious when refrigerated for a few hours as well.

Dill Potato Salad

3 pounds small white potatoes
Kosher salt
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped red onion

Place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons of salt in a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then place the colander with the potatoes over the empty pot and cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Allow the potatoes to steam for 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, Dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, dill, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Set aside.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in quarters or in half, depending on their size. Place the cut potatoes in a large bowl. While the potatoes are still warm, pour enough dressing over them to moisten. Add the celery and red onion, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Toss well, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Pleasantville Note: Okay, the recipe calls for “white potatoes”, how predictable ;) Live it up. Go with small red potatoes, or a mix of red and white. Also, call me crazy but I think Yukon Gold potatoes would work nicely as well. Live it up. It’s your salad. Also, if you don’t have buttermilk, you can use regular milk.

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Green Goddess Dressing

My friend Anita tries to pretend she’s not all that and a bag of chips in the kitchen, but I know differently. The girl jars her own salsa for Pete’s sake! One day she served me this dressing with a green salad. I almost licked the bowl. It’s also delicious as a dip for fresh vegetables.

Green Goddess Dressing

1 anchovy fillet* (or 1 tsp/5ml anchovy paste), optional
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp dried tarragon (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

*if you use the anchovy, soak it in cold water for a few minutes, pat dry then chop finely

Pulse all ingredients together in food processor until smooth. Keep refrigerated and use within a day or two.

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Macaroni Salad

Remember the macaroni salad your mom used to make for picnics and the beach? Whatever happened to that anyway, right? Well, here it is. It’s every bit as good today as it was when you were a kid and it’s a perfect summer side with chicken & ribs, or burgers. It’s also the perfect make-ahead salad when entertaining company around the barbecue.

Macaroni Salad

4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup white sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup grated carrot
4 radishes, thinly sliced

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni, and cook until tender. Rinse under cold water and drain. In a large bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir in the onion, celery, green pepper, carrot, radishes and macaroni. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving to let flavours develop, but is best if made a day ahead. Stir well before serving.

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