As much as I enjoy a well composed salad in a restaurant, it’s not often I take the time to make them at home. Sure, we eat salad a lot, but it’s usually just a simple tossed salad with mixed veggies over romaine. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s generally something I prefer more as a side than a main dish. This harvest apple salad has the perfect balance of components that make it completely respectable as a light lunch or great starting salad course. I still had some stray apples hanging around after making applesauce, so this salad was a nice way to use them up. A bed of baby spinach is topped with crisp apple slices, buttered almonds (yum), a simple vinaigrette with sweet onion and sesame seeds, and a bit of crumbled feta. As a bonus, once all the components are made, it’s a very easy healthy meal to pack up and take to work for lunch. Gotta love that! To make it into more of a hearty main dish salad, I think this would be spectacular topped with some herbed grilled chicken pieces. In fact, I think that just made my dinner menu for next week.
For the dressing:
¼ cup finely minced sweet onion
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp. white wine or champagne vinegar
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
Pinch of paprika
2 tbsp. sugar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
For the almonds:
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
¾ cup sliced or slivered almonds
1 tbsp. sugar
For the salad:
10 oz. baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
2 medium apples, cored and thinly sliced
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
To make the vinaigrette, combine the onion, vinegars, sesame seeds, paprika, and sugar in a small bowl or jar. Whisk to combine. Whisk in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until well emulsified. Refrigerate until ready to use. (If the dressing has separated, whisk or shake to blend again.)
To make the buttered almonds, melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the almonds and cook, stirring occasionally until toasted and lightly browned. Stir in the sugar and cook just until melted and well incorporated. Set aside to cool.
Plate portions of the baby spinach leaves. Top with apple slices, crumbled feta, and the buttered almonds. Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately.