[Photograph: Sarah Shatz]

If you make anything from the new Food52 Cookbook, make the Caramelized Apple Vinaigrette that dresses this Not-Too-Virtuous Salad. Yes, the salad itself is wonderful (with crisp bacon, crunchy apples, and earthy strips of celery root tucked inside, how could it not be?), but this vinaigrette is more than a little bit magic.

In wanderash's winning Best Salad with Apples, she sautes a diced Gala apple in a bracing apple cider vinegar and brown sugar caramel sauce before blending it to submission with garlic, thyme, lemon juice, and a generous pour of both olive and canola oil. The result is a creamy, sweet-savory celebration of the humble apple. It is both richly comforting and brightly fragrant enough to warrant meals upon meals based around this elixir.

Why I picked this recipe: For an elegant, colorful holiday salad, I couldn't say no to this bacon-apple combo.

What worked: As a whole, the salad is balanced and comforting, but the real winner here is the caramelized apple vinaigrette.

What didn't: Wouldn't change a thing...

Suggested Tweaks: ...but if you wanted to feed a family of vegetarians, you could leave out the bacon.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Food52 Cookbook, Volume 2 to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.


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