Salads make for refreshingly wholesome meals during a summer of sweltering heat. Not overly cumbersome to digest, yet delicious, cooling and healthy. This particular recipe combines fresh spinach, bacon and blue cheese to create a fusion of flavors that delight the palate while nourishing body and soul. Crisp green apples and pecans enhance taste while adding an element of crunchy satisfaction. Sweet, salty, the sharp tang of the cheese and the pungency of radish meet an even more surprising flavor— that of bourbon. What makes this salad truly unique is its dressing— a bourbon vinaigrette. Once the alcohol in the liquor has cooked off, you are left with a caramelized essence of the bourbon. A departure from ordinary dressings, it truly heightens the pleasure one derives from partaking of a regular salad.
In a small saucepan, bring the bourbon to a boil over medium heat. (If the alcohol in the bourbon catches flame, cover saucepan with a tight-fitting lid quickly to douse, then remove the lid.) Cook the bourbon for 3 to 4 minutes until it has been reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Transfer to a separate bowl and refrigerate until chilled.
In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, salt, pepper, and reserved bourbon. Set aside.
In a small skillet over medium-low heat, cook bacon until crispy for 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper-towel. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine spinach, pecans, apple, radish, blue cheese, and reserved bacon. Toss gently with reserved vinaigrette.
Thoughts of sultry, greasy summer days make us all uneasy.
Using expensive ingredients may very well be a norm when it comes to ramping up a recipe.