Autumn Harvest Salad

Whether you have a whole bag of apples from an orchard or just one or two in the fridge, a great way to enjoy them is in a savory salad. And combine the nutrition of apples (which are a good source of fiber and vitamins A and C plus antioxidants) with spinach and you have a nutritional powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that may help ward off osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer, arthritis, and other afflictions. And with packaged “ready-to-eat” spinach, one of nature’s healthiest greens has become a convenience food.

To capture the best of the autumn season, this recipe by Simply Salads author Jennifer Chandler, which appeared in Real Food, tosses fresh baby spinach with tart Granny Smith apples (or use your favorite), dried cranberries, and a sweet apple cider vinaigrette. Crispy applewood smoked bacon rounds out the flavor. This colorful side dish can easily be turned into a main course with the addition of grilled chicken or roast turkey.

Autumn Harvest Salad

Serves 4 to 6

1 bag (5 ounces) baby spinach salad blend
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
½ cup dried cranberries
½ red onion, thinly sliced
¼ pound applewood smoked bacon (about 4 or 5 slices), cooked and drained on paper towels, and crumbled
½ cup Apple Cider Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large salad bowl, toss the spinach with the apple, cranberries, red onion, and bacon. Add the vinaigrette to taste and gently toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Makes 1 cup

¹⁄3 c. sugar
½ tsp. dry mustard powder
¹⁄3 c. distilled white vinegar
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ c. canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, dry mustard, distilled white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce until the sugar has dissolved. Slowly add the oil in a stream, whisking to emulsify. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Autumn Harvest Salad nutrition info (per serving): CALORIES 185 (104 from fat); FAT 12g (sat. 1g); CHOL 6mg; SODIUM 156mg; CARB 19g; FIBER 2g; PROTEIN 3g

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.