Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mixed Greens Salad with Apples, Grapes, Bleu Cheese and Candied Pecans

I must admit, I have never been a salad person. I didn't eat them growing up. I didn't eat them in college, when my more conscientious female friends chose them for lunch over say, a burger and fries. It wasn't because I had something against healthy food. It's just...well...up until I was about 21, I had never met a salad whose butt I could not kick. In the culinary sense. (Excuse the language.)
But then, my friends, I began to discover that salads can be a lot more than washed out lettuce and cucumber slices floating in ranch dressing. (You know what I'm talking about. It was at the end of the hot lunch line.) This salad, in particular, has changed my feelings about leafy greens for lunch. It is a serious flavor explosion; the vinaigrette and bleu cheese provide tart flavors, and the grapes and candied pecans provide two different types of sweet. The texture varies, with crunchy apples and candied pecans meeting soft mixed greens from bite to bite. People, this is salad heaven. Just make it. It is very, very good. And, with a nod to the theme of this year's National Nutrition Month, it is also very colorful.
Mixed Greens Salad with Apple, Grapes, Bleu Cheese and Candied Pecans
By Alexandra Rogers

1 bag of mixed greens (I prefer the baby spring mix), washed and dried
1 cup of red grapes, washed 
2 fuji apples, cut into 1/2"-1" cubes
3/4 cup bleu cheese crumbles (a 4 oz. package gives you a little less, but that'll be more than enough)

Apple Cider Vinaigrette
1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 teaspoon mustard (the good, grainy stuff is best)
a dash of salt
a dash of pepper

In a large bowl, mix grapes, cubed apples, bleu cheese crumbles and mixed greens together.

In a small Tupperware container or lidded jar, mix vinaigrette ingredients together. Make a "lazy man's emulsion" by covering the container and shaking vigorously until combined. 

Toss the salad with just enough of the vinaigrette to lightly coat. Add candied pecans and mix. You will probably have some vinaigrette left over. Serve immediately. Serves 5-6

*As a side note, the ingredients keep fairly well for a few days (the apples brown unless you spritz them with lemon juice when you cut them), but if you're making it on a Sunday and having it for lunch on Monday, then don't put the dressing or candied pecans on until the day you're eating it.

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