Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Seasonal Salad with Apples, Pecans, and Cheese

Mixed Greens Salad with Apples and Pecans, Balsamic Vinaigrette
Mixed Greens, Apples, Pecans, Goat Cheese, and Balsamic Vinaigrette

There is hardly any story here. This salad is a cafe classic that became a favorite at home for two main reasons - it tastes good, and it is immensely satisfying. It is great as a first course salad but works just as well as a light main dish by increasing the quantities or by adding an egg or other protein on the side. It also follows my current mantra of making something using few stellar ingredients each of which contributes towards a great end result.

The crunch of sweet apples is offset by the tangy creaminess of the cheese and the nutty pecans, all providing great character to the basic green salad. When local apples start showing up in the farmers market in fall and winter, this is a salad I look forward to. The dressing is my all time favorite too, one that I must've made over a hundred times by now. Sometimes even when I eat outside I choose a salad just because I see the words 'balsamic vinaigrette' on the menu.

A note on the mustard

Even though the mustard is used in such a tiny amount here, its taste really comes through, so use a good mustard that you really like, or leave it out. I absolutely do not mean to be a snob, but at the risk of sounding like one I have to say that the best prepared mustard I have had is a champagne mustard I bought a couple of years back in Paris, at La grande ├ępicerie. It was seriously good stuff, and a regular Dijon mustard also bought there is a close second. Sadly, I have yet to find anything like either of those here.

Mixed Greens Salad with Apples and Pecans, Balsamic Vinaigrette

Like most salads, the following quantities should be used only as a general guideline and not as a precise recipe. These are for 2 servings, and can be scaled very easily.

Ingredients for Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 T balsamic vinegar
2 T extra virgin olive oil
a bit of coarse salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for salad

mixed geeens, about 4 cups
1 small apple
big handful of pecans, or walnuts
4 Tablespoons feta cheese, goat cheese, or any type of blue cheese
salt and pepper

Tossing it together

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the mustard, honey, and vinegar, and slowly add the olive oil, whisking until everything emulsifies together. Add coarse salt and ground pepper.

Heat a medium sized skillet and toast the pecans for a few minutes just until they start to turn a shade darker. Keep an eye on them, they take turn bitter if roasted too much. Let them cool.

Rinse and dry the salad greens. Core the apple and slice it thin.

Spoon the dressing over the greens a little at a time, and toss until the leaves are light coated with the dressing. Add the apples, pecans, and cheese, and a little salt and pepper to taste.

Sending this over to Andrew for his event 'Waiter, there is something in my Seasonal Salad'.


Sig said...

lol, you are a mustard snob, eh? :D :D
The salad looks wonderful... :)

Saswati said...

hi first time here and i am impressed with such different recipes.i am sure going to be aregular visitor:)

Asha said...

Just looking at it makes me happy! YUM!:)

Richa said...

I knew I was missing something in my greens salad, now I know what ....(wink)

looks so fresh n crisp, beautiful! I like the pear/walnut combo too :)

TheCooker said...

Such snobbery is good. That is my excuse for refusing to put up with mediocre chocolates and any supermarket cake.
We haven't had a 'me-too' thing in a while, so here I go: I make my salad dressing like that only.

Ashwini said...

Sweetie you sound like Ina Garten..."I only use the really good mustard"!!
I am guessing you dont like Kraft?!!

Mansi Desai said...

I hae Mustard!!:) but your salad looks delicious:)

Suganya said...

Looks glamorous, ET. Or should I say, mustard police :D.

evolvingtastes said...

Sig, not just mustard. :)

Saswati, likewise! Thanks for stopping by, and welcome to my blog.

Asha, its ok to eat it too, it is very healthy. :)

Richa, yesss, pears are great too. And in that case Stilton goes even better.

TheCooker, I was counting on you to encourage such snobbery. To quote someone I know "Once you go first class it is very difficult to go economy." Sadly, so true, and in the case of food it is not even always about how much money we spend.

Ashwini, I love Ina Garten, but I find it very funny when she says "use good this or good that". Yeah, like I am going to use something terrible on purpose. Kraft?!!

Mansi, thanks.

Suganya, oh no, I don't want to police anyone - tastes vary, and people are free to eat what they like.

DEEPA said...

Salad looks so very perfect .....excellent combhination!!!

sra said...

ET, I've tagged you for a weird things meme - pl check my blog if you're interested.

Cynthia said...

Alright, fork it over here :)

Anonymous said...

Re: I do not mean to be a snob, heh! :-D

I am not a great salad person, but this one I like. Maybe because of the apples and the feta cheese.

evolvingtastes said...

Deepa, Cythia, thanks.

sra, thanks for the baton. I will try to come up something, but will need some time (I am not as clever as you yaar).

Shantanu, I walked right into that one, didn't I! My disclaimer has turned into a joke.

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