Romaine, Bacon, Apple and Blue Cheese Salad with Warm Apple Butter Vinaigrette and Croutons

This salad has so many interesting flavors. Romaine lettuce is cold and crisp. Homemade croutons are tossed in cayenne oil before baking making them slightly spicy. The dressing is smoky, savory, and naturally sweet with the addition of bacon drippings and apple butter. The matchstick apples are crunchy and the blue cheese adds a salty “whang” (As my daddy would say!). All the flavors just pop in your mouth!

Romaine, Bacon, Apple and Blue Cheese Salad with Warm Apple Butter Vinaigrette and Croutons

8 cups torn Italian or French bread
1/3 Cup canola oil
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place bread in a large bowl. Stir oil and cayenne pepper together. Drizzle oil over bread while stirring to coat all pieces evenly. Pour bread on prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes or until light brown.

Warm Apple Butter Vinaigrette
5 slices bacon cut in 1-inch strips
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
2 tablespoons apple butter
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Cook bacon until done, remove from skillet, place on a paper towel and set aside. Reserve bacon drippings in skillet. Add shallots and cook on low heat until translucent. Reserve 2 tablespoons bacon drippings for dressing.
For dressing combine reserved 2 tablespoons bacon drippings, shallot, apple butter, vinegar, and Dijon mustard. To re-heat: warm vinaigrette in microwave.

Romaine, Bacon, Apple and Blue Cheese Salad
6 cups torn Romaine lettuce
1 large Honeycrisp apple cut in matchsticks
4 ounces crumbled blue cheese
Cooked bacon
Warm Apple Butter Vinaigrette

Place romaine on 4-6 plates. Top decoratively with apple, blue cheese, bacon and croutons. Serve with vinaigrette. Makes 6 servings. Enjoy!

Published in The News and Neighbor on January 15, 2020.

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