This is the best spring salad, also fabulous in the fall, brightens up a dreary winter day and it’s scrumptious for a summer luncheon, it’s an every season salad. Subtle flavors of maple, blend beautifully with the crisp tartness of the apples and creamy texture of the goat cheese. Just about every time I make this salad people ask for the recipe, I even have a friend who has taken the recipe to her family in New Zealand and it is now spreading all over New Zealand. I love it! So really, it’s an international salad.
Whether for a luncheon or a dinner, this salad that hangs out well with many dishes. I gave the recipe to my sister-in-law a few years back, she L.O.V.E.D it, in fact she loved it so much my niece called me and asked me to give her a different salad and dressing, saying that was all they ever had!
Start by tossing some spring mix lettuce or other favorite mixed greens, I like the baby mixed greens, into a salad bowl. A small container should be perfect, depending on how many you are feeding, this recipe easily doubles or triples for larger crowds.
Slice apple into thin slices and then chop into smaller pieces. Use the apple of your choice, though my preferences are Granny Smith (for tartness) or Honeycrisp (for tart sweetness). A wonderful counter to the semi-sweet dressing. You can slice ahead of time and put in a container, if you do, squeeze in a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice and toss well, so they don’t turn brown.
Toss in thinly sliced red onions, I like mine nice and thin. I like red onions, I just don’t want them overwhelming each bite.
Add Simple Low Sugar Candied Nuts (pecans in this instance). You can buy them, but these are super easy to make and aren’t as sugary as your average brand.
Here’s where it gets fun, depending on the time of year, add a splash of color using a variety of add ins, keep the apples and red onion though, they add a wonderful flavor and crunch:
- Try fresh berries, I used sliced strawberries and pomegranate arils in the salad shown. Fresh boysenberries, blueberries or raspberries would be delicious as well.
- Instead of candied pecans, use candied walnuts or almonds, macadamia nuts or even plain toasted pumpkin seeds or pine nuts.
- Try feta or blue cheese instead of goat cheese.
- Use a different vinegar; balsamic vinegars (white or dark), apple cider vinegar or a wine vinegar (red or white).
- Add shredded cooked chicken to make this a heartier salad for a luncheon
Toss salad with dressing just before serving, if making a smaller salad, don’t use all of the dressing. Serve immediately.
- Maple Syrup Vinaigrette
- 3 Tablespoons maple syrup, real
- 2 Tablespoons vinegar (typically I use red or white wine, but also try white or dark balsamic and even apple cider vinegar)
- ¼ cup salad oil, I like grapeseed oil, olive oil might be too strong
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 small container of mixed baby greens, or may even use chopped romaine
- ¼ - ½ medium red onion, sliced very thin
- 1 large Granny Smith, or Honeycrisp apple, sliced thin and then chopped into bite size pieces
- 1 cup candied pecans
- ¼ cup crumbled goat cheese (try honey, plain or smoked)
- OPTIONAL | Add in fresh sliced strawberries, boysenberries or raspberries, even blueberries
- OPTIONAL | Add pomegranate arils, a few tablespoons
- OPTIONAL | Trade out pecans for candied walnuts, candied sliced or slivered almonds or candied macadamia nuts
- OPTIONAL | Swap out goat cheese for feta or even blue cheese crumbles
- OPTIONAL | Instead of wine vinegar, try white or dark balsamic, or even apple cider vinegar
- OPTIONAL | Toss in some shredded cooked chicken breast for a heartier salad
- To make vinaigrette, simply combine all ingredients in a salad shaker (or repurpose a jelly jar or mason jar) and shake well until combined.
- Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Place greens, sliced red onions, sliced & chopped apples (and any other mix-ins) into salad bowl. Add cheese and pecans and toss with dressing. .
- May not need the whole bottle of dressing, toss to taste.
- Many people have allergies, so sometimes I will put the nuts and cheese in small bowls on the side for serving, toss everything else and serve with optional toppings.
- Serve with soup or sandwiches or add shredded cooked chicken for a heartier salad