Friday, January 2, 2015

Apple Mint Salad with Candied Walnuts


Inspired by a salad recipe from Chef Michael Smith's Family Meals cookbook, this take was brought about by my family's tastes. The original doesn't have romaine or dried cranberries, and uses pumpkin seeds instead of the candied walnuts. John isn't fond of too many carrots, and Kevin doesn't like raisins in salad so I thought the changes would make them more inclined to eat it. With a little tinkering, it's become our family's very favorite salad. I love the addition of big candied walnuts with a bit of cinnamon and pepper, and the sweetness from dried cranberries adds a nice touch. The best part is the dressing, which I haven't changed at all. I never would have thought to add cinnamon to a dressing, but this works so well with the other salad ingredients I wouldn't change a thing. I can eat this for lunch, dinner, or even snacks with a soft dinner bun and a few pieces of cheese.

While you're at it, I highly recommend Family Meals-there are all kinds of wonderfully easy, family friendly dishes in there to try!


3 cups of chopped romaine lettuce
1 carrot, peeled and then shaved
1 apple, sliced into sticks or very thin wedges
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/3 cup of dried cranberries
3/4 cup of walnuts
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp cinnamon
cracked black pepper

Dressing (adapted from Chef Michael Smith)

2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

1. In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, apple, carrot, cranberries, and mint. I like to cut around the apple core and slice the halves into thin pieces as pictured. Peel the carrot and then shave it in thin pieces with a vegetable peeler. I cut the peels in half.

carrot apple walnut

2. Heat the walnuts in a dry pan, shaking and watching closely until they are fragrant and lightly browned. Once they are slightly toasted, add the honey. It will sizzle and bubble. Toss the nuts in it until they are well coated, then sprinkle with cinnamon and pepper and toss some more until they are completely coated. Continue to cook and toss for about 1 minute. Remove the walnuts from the pan to a plate or cutting board to cool so they don't cool and become a big sticky clump in the pan. Chop them a bit if needed.

candied walnuts

3. Toss the chopped walnuts in the salad once they are cooled to room temperature.

4. Measure all the dressing ingredients into a 1 cup Mason jar. Screw on a lid and give it all a good shake until it's emulsified.  Serve with the salad to drizzle over top. The dressing will keep a day or so but will eventually get goopy.

Serves four!

carrot apple salad
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