Apples, pecans, and blue cheese are the base of this versatile salad, and the speedy maple-Dijon-cider vinaigrette makes it a keeper.
As I was walking my boys home from school one day last spring, a friend of mine drove by and yelled a funny thing out her car window. “I love your maple Dijon vinaigrette and I use it on roasted vegetables! Sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts are the best!”
As she rolled on by (she never actually made a complete stop), I had to smile. Not only did she enjoy the recipe, she gave me a brilliant new use for it. To be specific, she tosses the vegetables in the vinaigrette before roasting, instead of olive oil.
The story on this salad is that I ordered something similar at a restaurant a couple of years ago. I enjoyed the combination so much that I set out to recreate it. While a salad alone is easy enough to replicate, the dressing can be a bit trickier. Yet it is the dressing that has the potential to make a simple salad truly outstanding.
One evening, I stood in my kitchen, tinkering with the amount of Dijon, vinegar, and maple syrup until I achieved what I considered to be the perfect balance. Luckily, I kept a record of every alteration, because I have been making this salad (and roasting vegetables with the dressing) regularly ever since.
- 8 cups mixed spring greens
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt and a few grinds of the pepper mill
- 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup candied pecans (you may enjoy these)
- 1/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 of a small red onion, slivered
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
In a small bowl or jar, combine the olive oil, maple syrup, vinegar, Dijon, salt and pepper. Mix well. The dressing can be made in advance and will keep several weeks in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature, and shake well before using.
In a large salad bowl, add the greens, sliced apple, pecans, blue cheese, red onion, and dried cranberries. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette just before serving and toss well.
- A simple trick to assemble the salad in advance but keep the apples from browning is the following: Place the sliced apples on the bottom of the salad bowl and toss with enough vinaigrette to lightly coat. Place the greens and all the remaining ingredients except the pecans on top of the apples but do not toss. Store in refrigerator, lightly covered with a damp paper towel. When ready to serve, toss with a little extra vinaigrette and sprinkle with the pecans.