Christmas Salad: w/ Apples, Candied Walnuts & Cider Vinaigrette
I am always asked to bring the Caesar salad to my sister-in-law's for Christmas.
Everyone loves it and it is the perfect salad for 25 people.
But this year I may surprise everyone!
What makes this nice winter salad so special are the candied walnuts.
They are delicious and addictive, and SOOOOO easy to make (I promise, you won't buy them pre-made, ever again).
You can use any variety apple, most people love Honey Crisp.
Slice the apples, or cut them into matchsticks, whatever you like.
Here, I used chicory mixed with the arugula, which is a nice bitter, hardy green that can stand up to sweet apples and candied nuts. Frisee lettuce is also a good pairing.
If you don't make this recipe for Christmas, then make it next week, when you are craving a salad.
You can make the nuts in advance, they only take a few minutes.
Salad w/ Frisee, Arugula, Apples & Candied Walnuts: serves 6
a big bunch of frisee lettuce, or chicory, washed and dried
a big bunch of arugula
2 apples, sliced or cut into matchsticks (I leave the peels on for color)
1 cup of candied walnuts
Apple Cider Vinaigrette:
2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
1 tsp of grainy French mustard (the kind w/ seeds)
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp good olive oil
sea salt & black pepper
1 cup walnut halves (not pieces)
1/3 cup good quality maple syrup
pinch of sea salt
pinch of cumin
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of cayenne pepper
Swirl a little olive oil in a heavy skillet on high heat.
Add in the nuts, syrup and spices.
Swirl around with a wooden spoon for about 4 minutes. The mixture will bubble up, then almost disappear.
Your nuts are done when they look coated and golden and most of the liquid is adhered to the nuts.
Transfer immediately to a sheet of parchment paper to harden and cool. (*see my note below about NOT having the caramel stick to you pan!).
*A note about the candied walnuts: make sure you submerge the skillet in hot water IMMEDIATELY after transferring the caramelized nuts to the parchment paper, or the sugar will dry and stick to the pan (which is impossible to clean!).
Assemble the salad.
Whisk the dressing with a fork.
Drizzle the dressing over the apples and greens in a big bowl and add in the candied nuts.
A big hunk of good stinky blue cheese on each plate would be a welcome first course to go along with this salad.
Merry Christmas and enjoy.
*1/18/15 I made the candied walnuts in a nonstick omelet pan, and they came out just as great, and no mess to clean up in the skillet!