Fall Salad with Honey Vinaigrette

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Just because summer's over doesn't mean we have to stop with the salads! In fact, fall ushers in a whole basket full of new ingredients we can incorporate with our leafy greens for a healthier main meal or colorful side dish. In keeping with my fruit-nut-cheese combination, I use fall fruits including apples, pears, cranberries, and grapes in conjunction with almonds, pecans, and walnuts with virtually any cheese out there. I love the goats, and so a smoked or aged goat pairs awesomely with apples, while bleu cheeses still go great with grapes, dried cranberries, and ripe sweet pears.

I whipped up this quickie salad using some local honey for the vinaigrette. Don't have honey? You can use Dijon mustard and a 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar but you should really have a jar of good quality honey in your pantry especially this fall and winter season! Enjoy it!

Fall Salad with Honey Vinaigrette
1 bag baby romaine and butter lettuce (or mixed greens)
1/4 of a red onion, very thinly sliced
1 apple (recommend honeycrisp or fuji), diced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup good quality feta cheese, diced
1/4 cup thinly sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp honey
2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar or the juice of one lemon
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Place the lettuce in a large bowl. Add the red onion, apple, and cranberries. Season with salt and pepper to taste. To make the vinaigrette, simply whisk together the olive oil, honey, vinegar/lemon juice. Drizzle over the salad then toss gently to coat everything with the vinaigrette. Top with the feta cheese and almonds, then give another gently toss. Serve immediately.

My Notes:
To toast the almonds, simply place the sliced almonds in a dry pan and heat through on a medium flame. Make sure to move them around with a spatula or spoon so they don't burn. Once just beginning to change color, remove promptly and into another bowl (leaving them in the pan will burn them as they will continue to cook!).

You can use any fruit-nut-cheese combination. I like having the saltier feta cheese against the sweeter cranberries and apples. A smoked gouda would work wonderfully if using just apples.

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