Apple, Bacon, Feta Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

 (FOR 4 SALADS)


2 Apples - Honeycrisp, Fugi, or Gala would be best
1 cup Feta (Mt Vikos is the best!)
1/2 cup smoked almonds chopped in half
1/3 cup crumbled bacon (about 6 slices)
1/3 Cup Canola or Peanut Oil 
3 Tbs Maple Syrup
3 Tbs Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt

Prepare the apples first: peeled, quartered, and cored. Slice them about 1/4" thick and then halve that again for hearty bite size pieces.

  A mandoline or  (Ronco) slicer-dicer makes quick work of this if you have one. To keep the apples from darkening dunk them in water with a squeeze of lemon while you measure up the rest of the salad and make the vinaigrette:

MAPLE VINAIGRETTE

1/3 Cup Canola or Peanut Oil 

3 Tbs Maple Syrup

3 Tbs Apple Cider Vinegar

1 tsp vanilla

pinch salt

This is actually a very mild vinaigrette and will be more than enough for this salad, possibly even enough to use twice. Be sure to use a mild flavored oil, not olive oil which conflicts with the other ingredients. It's not often I forgo olive oil but this is one time that it does make a difference to use something else.

Now add feta, almonds, and bacon.

Dry the apple slices and combine with above in a roomy bowl so you can toss it well with some of the dressing and give it a taste. The dressing should just enhance the other flavors, not overwhelm them or end up being the predominant taste. *A note about the cheese - all feta is not created equal. It can be powerfully salty and even stinky and I don't mean that in a good way. Steer clear of American made feta (sorry America, leave this one to other countries who do it better). My favorite of the many, many brands I've tried is Mt Vikos (Greek). It's not as salty or strong yet still has a distinctive flavor that doesn't rely on that pungent salt. If you can't find Mt. Vikos, start with less than the full cup of feta and do a taste test before adding the rest. Let the apples shine most!

Jan Burke. http://dailydishinblog.blogspot.com/