When the fall air gets crisp, it’s a perfect time to prepare a salad full of crispy, crunchy goodness, topped with a chili cider vinaigrette that has a mild bite to it. And for crispy fall food, the apple gets top billing.Jump to Recipe
Harvesting Apples in Germany
Apples remind me of the several years we spent in Germany when I entered my teen years. In particular, I’m reminded of a trip we took to an apple orchard that allowed you to pick your own … all those trees and apples. I’d helped my parents harvest vegetables from their small garden plot in Alabama and harvested pecans right from our yard there, but I’d never harvested fruit like this.
I know as a teen I should have been blasé about the whole thing, but honestly—it was fun. I found connecting to a food source meaningful, and running around picking apples became a friendly contest with my brother and some friends. I don’t remember how many apples we brought home, but I do remember it was enough that we got tired of eating them—except maybe for in apple pie. Who gets tired of eating apple pie?
If Fall Were a Salad …
When I thought about sharing a fall salad with you, I knew I wanted apples surrounded by crunchy and chewy bits that taste like fall. I settled on things you find in a Thanksgiving meal—cranberries, celery and green onion—topped with walnuts and bleu cheese. The apples are for taste and presentation—thinly sliced and laid out beautifully on the lettuce bed. If you have small apples you may need the maximum called for in the recipe; larger, use fewer apples.
My initial thoughts were a blend of arugula and romaine for the bed of greens, but a blend of spinach and spring mix were on hand and worked just fine. I encourage playing around with a blend of bitter, neutral and sweet lettuces and greens to find your favorite combination. Just avoid extremes (perhaps kale) that would overpower the apples.
If you want to create a unique harvest experience, edible flowers can add flavor and a new decorative element: imagine a few calendula petals sprinkled about, signifying the colors of fall. Or perhaps delicately place a few chamomile blossoms among apple slices.
Dress up your Apple Crisp Salad
I chose two varieties of apples, Honey Crisp and Granny Smith, for their crunch and their complementary sweet and tangy flavors. I wanted a dressing to match that pairing. While it may seem obvious for a fall salad, I was surprised by apple cider vinaigrette. That’s because I had never tasted an apple cider vinaigrette before, let alone made one. When I researched vinaigrette, apple cider was listed among the varieties. This had to be: apple cider is like fall’s exclamation point. What a great way to dress a fall salad.
Although I concocted Chili Cider Vinaigrette specifically for Apple Crisp Salad, I know there will be more uses, and I can’t wait to experiment with it. For example, if you want to amp up the salad topping, saute nuts in the vinaigrette. Add a little salt or sugar, as desired, for added flavor. They make a great snack, too: our mix of pecans, walnuts and almonds were delicious! It reminded me a little of a recipe for chili peanuts I used to make years ago, from Sheila Lukens’ All Around the World Cookbook. As I recall, this was her version of a street food she enjoyed while traveling in India. I lost the book (and was broken hearted when I discovered the fact), but memories keep.
“Every salad you serve is a picture you have painted, a sculpture you have modeled, a drama you have created.”― Carol Truax, The art of salad making
Apple Crisp Salad
- 8 C mix spinach and leaf lettuce
- ½ C dried cranberries
- ½ to ⅔ C chopped celery
- 4 green onions chopped
- 2-3 Granny Smith apple sliced
- 2-3 Gala apple sliced
- 1 C chopped walnuts pecans, almonds, or mix
- 1 C bleu cheese crumbled
- 1 C apple cider vinaigrette or more, to taste
- Rinse and spin spinach and lettuce mix.
- Toss in cranberries onion, and celery.
- Plate salad individually or on a large platter.
- Layer apple around the edge of the salad.
- Sprinkle nuts and cheese in center of salad.
- Drizzle with Apple Cider Vinaigrette.
Serving SuggestionsThe salad stands alone for a light meal, or serve with a soup or sandwich for a more hearty meal. Apple Crisp Salad will also accompany chicken well: try adding fried or sautéed chicken strips for a more substantial salad.
Nutritional values do not include dressing. See Chili Cider Vinaigrette for nutritional value of dressing.