In the spring and fall, when fresh greens are abundant and delicious, I often eat a salad for a lunch. I throw a bunch of Perkins’ Good Earth Farm baby lettuce or spinach in a bowl, then search the fridge for toppings. I know some people aren’t big fans of leftovers, but I’m not one of them. Leftovers turn my bowl of greens into a meal complete with protein, veggies, fruit, fats, and carbs.
For instance. A few weeks ago, I made Pork Chops with Maple Apples for dinner, a recipe from Better Homes and Gardens’ weeknight cooking features. Since pork chops are somewhat of a treat in our family, I didn’t have any leftover meat, but I did find surplus maple apples, aka apples sautéed with onions and garlic, then simmered in apple juice, cream, maple syrup and thyme. I warmed up the apples, placed them on my greens, and topped the salad with toasted almonds for flavor and crunch. My only disappointment was that I didn’t have enough leftovers for a second bowl.
While you don’t need to make pork chops to enjoy this salad, you just might want to. When I first made this, I used my cast iron skillet to cook the pork chops, then used the same skillet—without cleaning it—to cook the apples and onions. If you want only the salad without the chops, you could use a little bacon fat along with the olive oil to get some pork flavor.
First, fill four individual bowls or plates with one cup (for a side salad) or two cups (for a main dish) of salad greens and/or baby spinach. Set aside.
If you’ve made the pork chops, your skillet should be hot and ready to go. If not, heat it up over medium-high heat and work on your food prep.
Once your skillet’s hot, add a tablespoon of olive oil and wait for it to sizzle. Add your apples, onions, and garlic to the skillet and cook for just a couple minutes, stirring every now and then.
Add a quarter cup of apple juice or cider, and cook for 4-5 minutes, until almost all the liquid has evaporated and the apples are just beginning to soften.
While the apples are cooking, mix 1/3 cup whipping cream, one tablespoon of maple syrup, and two teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme (about 5 sprigs).
Pour this mixture over the apples in the skillet and cook for a couple minutes, until the sauce is heated through and starting to thicken.
Spoon about a quarter cup of apple mixture over each bowl of greens, then top the salads with a sprinkling of toasted almonds. Enjoy!
Note: If you’re making this topping for both pork chops and salad for four, I recommend doubling the recipe.
Scroll down for the printable, and let me know how your salad experience turned out!
Photos and Food Styling: Anne Kingma
- 4-8 cups salad greens or baby spinach
- 1 Tbsp olive oil and/or bacon fat
- 2 cooking apples, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 small red onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup apple juice
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
- 2 tsp snipped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
- ½ cup toasted almonds
- Fill four individual bowls or plates with 1-2 cups of salad greens and/or baby spinach. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil or bacon fat in skillet. Once fat is sizzling, add apples, onion and garlic to skillet. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add apple juice and cook for 4-5 minutes, until almost all the liquid has evaporated and the apples are just beginning to soften.
- While apples are cooking, stir together cream, syrup, and thyme. Pour over apples and onions in skillet. Cook and stir for 2 minutes, until the sauce is heated through and beginning to thicken.
- Spoon about a ¼ cup apple mixture over each plate of greens. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Enjoy!
- If you’re making this topping for both pork chops and salad for four, I recommend doubling the recipe.