Apple, Hazelnut, and Blue Cheese

Apple, Hazelnut, and Blue Cheese Salad

This apple, hazelnut, and blue cheese salad could also be pear, pecan, and goat cheese salad or blueberry, almond, and feta salad, whatever combination suits you, the method is the same. What makes me want to bring it to you today is to let you in on my secret weapon for a simple but always impressive way to dress it.

You know that display of artisanal flavored balsamic vinegar you see at your local gourmet food store or when you’re wandering shops in a quaint touristy town? You should buy a bottle. Pick a flavor you like, sometimes they’ll let you sample them. My favorites are black cherry and fig but in this recipe, I used a white balsamic Gravenstein apple which I found at a little shop in Hood River. Don’t pay more than $10/12  for a 7-ounce bottle but don’t balk at that price either because a little goes far and the shelf life is long. Add some oil, salt, and pepper and you’ve got fresh, flavorful salad dressing.

A salad like this one is a perfect addition to a holiday meal. I’ve been asked to bring a salad for Thanksgiving this year (along with pies, of course, my cousin didn’t let me off that easy) and I’ll likely make a close version. It’s also great and super fast to throw together on a busy weeknight. I love knowing I always have the vinegar and oil in the pantry. I don’t know about you but my fridge is crowded enough without bottled dressing taking up more room.

Apple, Hazelnut, and Blue Cheese Salad

(Serves 4)

1 1/2 tablespoons apple balsamic vinegar

salt and freshly ground pepper, a pinch of each

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

one large apple, sliced thinly

one head romaine lettuce, rinsed, dried off, and chopped (about 4 – 6 cups)

*1/2 cups hazelnuts, roasted and chopped

1/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled

dried cranberries, a small handful (totally optional)

*You can find roasting instructions in my previous post  – just ignore the added ingredients if you want them plain.

Pour apple balsamic vinegar into a large salad bowl.

apple hazelnut

Add salt and pepper, then add olive oil.

apple hazelnut

Using a wire whisk, stir briskly until the dressing thickens slightly.

apple hazelnut

Add apples, then lettuce and toss to coat with the dressing.

apple hazelnutapple, hazelnut, and blue cheese

Gently toss in the hazelnuts, blue cheese, and cranberries. Serve promptly.

Apple, Hazelnut, and Blue Cheese

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

 “If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present… Gratefully.”                 Maya Angelou

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