Candied Walnut, Frisee and Apple Salad Recipe

With the arrival of fall I’ve been looking to make an apple salad recipe.  Besides pumpkin, apples are my next favorite fall food. I’ve always been a huge fan of apples, ever since I was a child.  I used to make the association of the first letter of my name being the same as apple.  That sounds about right for an eight year old.

Anyway, as I’ve grown my taste in apples has definitely matured as well.  When I was a child, all we ate were Red Delicious and Golden Delicious apples.  I don’t even think we knew other apples existed at that time (I AM from a pretty small town, ya know…).  Nowadays, I really love apples like Honeycrisp, Gala and Fuji.  So many varieties of apples exist.  I encourage you to seek them out.  Variety is the spice of life, ya know.

Candied Walnut, Frisee and Apple Salad

So I knew I wanted to do apples in this salad but what else.  Walnuts are a classic pairing for apples so I naturally steered in that direction.  Instead of just using raw or plain toasted walnuts, I candied these with olive oil, brown sugar, salt and cayenne.  I was very pleased with the result.  A walnut is such a rich meaty nut – it really provides a nice depth of flavor for this salad.

Apples, Aged Provolone Cheese and Candied Walnuts

Of course I must have cheese in every salad I make so this one was no exception.  I was thinking of a Grana Padano originally, but both the stores I stopped at did not have it.  So I settled on an aged provolone cheese – which sounded really interesting anyway.  It is tangy and drier than a regular provolone.  It’s not quite as dry as a Grana Padano or even a Manchego, but I was able to crumble it into large chunks.  Use whatever hard-ish cheese you’d like here.  They are all fairly salty and dry, and that’s mainly what this dish calls for.

Apple Sticks, Aged Provolone Cheese and Candied Walnuts

So in thinking about a lettuce base, my mind went to frisee.  At some point I must have a had a frisee and apple salad somewhere.  Anyway, frisee is part of the chicory family but is fairly mild.  The leaves are long, thin and wispy – not a broad leaf lettuce at all.  Restaurants use frisee often for its taste diversity and also because it is an “artsy” looking lettuce – meaning it makes pretty salads.

Finally, dressing!  I read about a white balsamic vinegar dressing a few weeks ago and realized I’d never tried white balsamic vinegar.  I picked up a bottle at my local grocery store, and I’m now hooked.  It’s a bit milder than the regular dark balsamic, and I find it a little sweeter too.  It’s still very acidic so it makes a fantastic dressing.  Especially when paired with the apples and the rest of the ingredients.

Candied Walnut, Frisee and Apple Salad

 Tips:

  • Using an apple corer makes cleaning apples so much easier.  Consider purchasing one.
  • Also, utilizing a salad spinner results in greens that are cleaner and more dry than if you tried to wash and dry the greens by hand.  These typically run around $30 but are very worth the price if you’re into making salads often.
  • You can easily substitute white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar if you have those already and don’t want to purchase more vinegar.
Yield: 2 dinner servings; 4 side servings

Candied Walnut, Frisee and Apple Salad Recipe

This salad is perfect for a meal or as a side dish to accompany a larger meal. The apples, walnuts and cheese pair perfectly with the bitterness of the frisee.

Ingredients:

Salad Ingredients:
  • 1 small head of frisee, washed with core and thicker outer leaves removed
  • 1 sweet apple (such as Gala, Fuji or Braeburn), halved, cored and cut into matchsticks
  • 1/4 cup cut or crumbed hard cheese (such as aged provolone, Gran Padano, Parmesan)
  • 1 recipe candied walnuts (recipe below)
  • White balsamic vinaigrette, to taste (recipe below)
Candied Walnuts:
  • 1/2 cup walnut halves
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon light olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
White Balsamic Vinaigrette:
  • 1 fluid ounce white balsamic
  • 3 fluid ounces olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Method:

Candied Walnuts:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Bake for 5 minutes at 400 ºF.
White Balsamic Vinaigrette:
  1. Combine all ingredients into a jar or squeeze bottle.
  2. Shake to combine and re-shake before using.
Salad Assembly:
  1. Place frisee in a large bowl and add dressing as desired. Mix with tongs.
  2. Divide the frisee between two dinner plates and then top with apples, cheese, walnuts and more dressing as desired.
  3. Serve immediately.

Prep:25 min

Total:25 min

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