When autumn arrives, so do apples and pears. In abundance. Today, The Goddess is focusing on apples. The varieties of older and new apples has positively exploded. And that’s a delicious thing. This salad is very close to a Waldorf Salad. But, of course, The Goddess made a couple of changes. This graces our Thanksgiving table almost every year. I’m going to give you the proportions for six people. Please feel free to change and adapt it to your liking. About the apples—I like Jonagold, Baldwin, Braeburn, Cortland, Empire or Crimson Delight. Crisp, and just slightly sweet, are the best features for this salad. Cortland and Empire apples are both slow to oxidize (turn brown), as well as Ambrosia and Cameo. A little lemon juice (or salt water) will help stave off the oxidization, but it also promotes juicing. Anyway, I don’t peel the apple. I like the color and texture. And we should probably all have more roughage in our diets. The combination I love is: apples, celery, fresh fennel, scallions, bleu cheese or gorgonzola and walnuts. I also add a little lemon juice and just a hint of mint. I used two mint leaves that I minced, so you not going be thinking, “Mouthwash!”. But, it is better with the mint, than without. If you only have dried mint, the tiniest of pinches should do it. I have also used fresh basil and cilantro (not together). Think about what you’re serving it with, when you decide. This time I used a mayonnaise based dressing, with very, very reduced apple cider. As you can see, the apple cider reduction is pretty much jelly! I reduce a gallon of unsweetened cider, down to one cup, cool it and store it in the fridge. It keeps for quite some time, at least a couple of weeks. I always use it up and wish I had more. To the mayo and cider “jelly” , I add Dijon-type mustard, kosher salt and a large pinch of ground allspice. Because the concentrated cider is cold, you have to work a bit to get it incorporated. If you prefer a non-mayo based dressing, try either the Apple Cider-Shallot and Mustard Vinaigrette, or Sweet Sherry Vinegar-Mustard Vinaigrette, if they’re more to your liking. I like to prepare the salad to this point at least and hour or two ahead (now you can see why that non-oxidizing apple is important), and chill it. I add the toasted walnuts just before I served it. This time I folded them in, but they are lovely sprinkled over the salad. The bonus to that method, is they retain their crunch a bit longer. This salad can easily be doubled or tripled.
Apple-Fennel and Bleu Cheese Salad
- 2-3 apples, unpeeled, cored and diced (see NOTE)
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon (or lime) juice
- 2 celery ribs from the heart, including leaves (about 3/4 cup)
- 1/2 cup diced fresh fennel bulb, including some of the fronds
- 4 scallions, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces, including the green
- 2-3 fresh mint leaves, very, very finely minced
- 4 radishes, diced (optional)
- 1 sweet Mandarin, finely diced (optional)
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese or gorgonzola
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts
- Creamy Mustard Dressing:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use Hellmann’s™)
- 2-3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 3-4 teaspoons apple cider concentrate (or apple jelly)
- Large pinch kosher salt
- Large pinch ground allspice
In a large bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, celery (with some leaves), fresh fennel (with some fronds), scallions, mint, radishes and Mandarins, if using and the bleu cheese. Toss.
In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients; stir well. Pour over the salad; combine thoroughly. Set aside, in the fridge, for at least one hour, or up to three hours, to allow the flavors to meld.
Just before serving, add the toasted walnuts and give the salad another good stir and pour into a serving dish. If you wish, pour the salad into a serving dish and top with the toasted walnuts; serve.
NOTE: A sweet/tart apple (or a combination) works best for this—Jonagold, Cameo, Empire, Cortland, to name a few, are all delicious options. You may like to use half apples and half pears, too. Apple jelly can be used in place of the cider reduction, but it add sweetness—you may want to increase the lemon juice to 2 teaspoons and use the larger amount of mustard. Dried fruit(s) can also be added. The amounts given are flexible, so make it to your liking.
Apple-Fennel and Bleu Cheese Salad Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2020. All rights reserved.