Apples are literally everywhere at the market these days. They store really well and will keep for a long time if treated properly. There are so many different kinds of apples…how do we know which one is the right one for us!? I’ve taken it upon myself to taste each apple and give you a better idea of the differences. I’ve also chosen my favorites, but you should definitely try each yourself so you can decide your own!
I wanted to make this as simple as possible, so I kept my descriptions short and to the point. I judged based on taste, texture, smell, and what I thought each particular apple would be best for.
Buckeye Gala: Sweet, mild taste. A bit grainy, with thicker skin. Very aromatic. Good for baking and for use in sauces.
Fuji: Good for storing. Sweet, bold taste. Thinner skin. Great for snacking. Not too tart.
Goldrush: Very tart and juicy. Thick skin. Becomes sweeter the longer after it’s been picked. Good for any use, but great for salads.
Cameo: Sweet, bold taste. Grainy with thicker skin. Very aromatic. Similar to Galas but with a stronger, more traditional “apple” taste.
Nittany: Very crisp. Very juicy. Subtle, nutty flavor. Perfect balance of sweet and tart. Great for baking and snacking.
Devon Gold (Golden Delicious): Mildly tart, thinner skin. Sweet and very aromatic. Good for any use, but great for baking as it keeps it’s crunch when cooked.
Pink Lady: Crisp, firm, and very juicy. On the tart side with very sweet undertones. Good for all purposes but great for salads.
After performing the strenuous task of tasting all of these delicious apples, I decided I wanted to create a salad with my two favorite apples. The Superbowl is this weekend and I was invited to a friend’s party. I knew everyone else would bring standard Superbowl items like wings, chili, and cornbread…which, of course, you can easily find the ingredients for at the market. I knew that no one was going to bring a salad, and I pride myself on being that one person that reminds people to eat healthy!
Most people don’t think of salads as a wintery thing. Many people consider Spring, Summer, and Fall to be the proper times to eat salads. I say “false!” There are so many great seasonal items that are available in the Winter to toss together into a salad. Obviously, with apples being so abundant, I wanted them to be the star of the salad. I tend to go more for the crisp, juicy, tart apples. So I looked at my notes and decided to cut up a Pink Lady and a Goldrush and go from there…
The other stars of this salad are the lamb bacon, the cheese, and the dressing. There is only one way to obtain lamb bacon at the market – go visit the tent with the two attractive Jewish boys (they’re brothers) singing about “kosher bacon!” They’ll tell you all about how their lamb bacon is made from local, grassfed Shenandoah Valley lambs, cured without nitrates and smoked over applewood. It is a great substitute for regular bacon if you keep kosher, and a great change in pace if you don’t.
The cheese, as always, came from Stonyman Gourmet Farmer. This time, I wanted something simple yet robust. I tasted the two cheddars that Alan had available, and decided on the Reserve Cheddar. Made from raw cow’s milk and aged 18 months, this semi-hard cheese is creamy and moderately sharp. It has a reasonably robust flavor that stands up really well when combined with other intense flavors, without overwhelming them.
The idea for the dressing came to me when I realized that I would be making this salad with very tarts apples. I wanted to use something sweet with deep flavor that would counteract the sharp taste of the apples. I decided to play around with something that I found at the Two Acre Farm tent – a Honey Mustard that Nicole makes. I emulsified it with olive oil and realized that it was too honey-rich for a dressing. I decided, instead, to soak the apple slices in it. That way, it would coat the salad perfectly, without being too clumpy or overwhelming.
As I always do, I’ve put in parentheses the vendors where I acquired all of my ingredients. Feel free to play around with your favorite apple type – see which one works for you and maybe try a different kind of sauce from Two Acre Farm to match your apple choice!
Spinach and Apple “Superbowl” Salad
- 12 oz (8 handfuls) Spinach (Two Acre Farm)
- 2 Tbsp. Honey Mustard (Two Acre Farm)
- 5 Tbsp. Olive Oil (All Things Olive)
- 3 Apples, diced (Twin Springs Fruit Farm)
- 4 oz. Cheddar Cheese, grated (Stonyman Gourmet Farmers)
- 1 package Lamb Bacon
Combine the honey mustard and the olive oil – whisk vigorously to emulsify. Coat apples in mixture and let sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Place the lamb bacon in a pan and cook to desired crispiness, making sure to drain fat from pan at least once or twice. Once done, chop into small pieces.
Combine spinach, apples, and cheese in a large bowl. If desired, sprinkle bacon pieces on salad as it is served (otherwise it gets lost in the salad, which I learned the hard way!)
I made this salad for my roommate and her boyfriend. When I asked if it passed the “Superbowl appropriate” test, her boyfriend looked at me and said, “it’s quite a manly salad.” That was enough for me. Make it in bulk and bring it to your Superbowl party. I promise you it will get eaten. Enjoy!