In my family we usually don't do a salad for Thanksgiving dinner--maybe it's just that we generally have too many sides and so the idea of salad gets nixed. But after tasting this yummy concoction, with its lovely mix of soft baby greens, sweet sauteed apples, crunchy walnuts and Gorgonzola all coated in a very seasonal apple vinaigrette, I'm rethinking the nix and seriously considering adding this to the mix (like that rhyme action there?!) It's light, delicious and special enough to be included on our groaning Thanksgiving table! And yours too!
I love salads as I've said many times around here and I really love finding new ways of putting them together. This one comes with a very fall-like dressing which you make by reducing apple cider to a syrup and then combining it with vinegar, oil, chives and seasonings. It's sweet but also has a little tang and is miles away from the balsamic vinaigrette route I generally take.
The other really special part about this salad is the sauteed apples which are what had me drooling as I read through the recipe. I often cut up an apple to add to our salads, but I've never thought about adding caramelized apples and boy, do I wish I had! With their warmth and sweetness, they add a really nice contrast to the cool greens.
The rest of the salad comes together easily with the toasted walnuts and gorgonzola cheese.
Every bite is like a little flavor and texture explosion in your mouth--the creamy tang of the gorgonzola, the crunch of the toasted walnuts, the softness of the baby lettuces and the sweetness of the apple and the vinaigrette.
Ok, I've talked myself into it. There's going to be a new Thanksgiving tradition around here this year!
Baby Greens with Caramelized Apples, Roasted Walnuts, Gorgonzola and Apple Vinaigrette
Makes 6-8 servings as a first course
Prep Time: 25 minutes
For the Vinaigrette
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup walnut oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
- Salt and black pepper to taste
For the Salad
- 1 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped (toast at 350ºF for about 7-8 minutes)
- 1-2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 crisp apples (I used Gala), peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch slices (don't make them too thin or they'll fall apart when cooked)
- One 12-ounce bag baby greens
- 1 cup Gorgonzola, crumbled
1. For the Vinaigrette: Place the apple cider in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for another 10 minutes or so, until the liquid is reduced by half and looks syrupy. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Then whisk in the oil, chives, salt and pepper.
2. To make the apples: In a large heavy skillet, melt the sugar over medium heat, stirring until it just begins to turn golden brown. Slowly add the olive oil and the sliced apples and stir constantly until the apples are slightly soft but still retain some crispness, anywhere from 3-5 minutes. Transfer from the pan to a plate until ready to use.
3. Place the greens in a large salad bowl and drizzle with some of the vinaigrette. Toss to coat. Divide among the plates. Top each salad with the walnuts, apples and Gorgonzola. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add a bit more vinaigrette over the top. Serve immediately.
4. If making this for Thanksgiving with a lot of other stuff, you can prepare everything in advance but this tastes best when the apples are warm, so keep them in a small pot or the pan they originally cooked in, and reheat before ready to serve. If you plate this with the warm apples too early, the salad will get soggy.
Note: Recipe adapted from Dishing Up Vermont by Tracey Medieros. I tweaked around some of the measurements and ingredients.