This is my favorite Thanksgiving salad. Autumn is apple time, and apples are great on a salad. Grilling them just adds excitement. You can just slice them and grill them, but give them a little butter and, well, oh my....
You can prepare this recipe well in advance and assemble it at the last minute.
Preparation and cooking time.
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons apple juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons salted butter
1 large crunchy apple
2 pinches of kosher salt
3 cups chopped romaine, or you choice of lettuces
1/2 cup walnut meats or pecan halves
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese or feta
About the oil. Go for a neutral oil, like canola. Olive oil is too strong for this dressing.
About the apples. Use a juicy, firm, crunchy red apple like Braeburn, Fuji, or Gala. Macintosh apples are too mushy for this recipe.
About the apple juice. I use small amounts of apple juice in a lot of recipes, so I just keep on hand those little juice boxes that can be stored at room temp. But in autumn you can usually find fresh apple juice, the cloudy brown stuff that packs waaaay more flavor.
About the vinegar. If you don't have cider vinegar, you can substitute rice vinegar, or white wine vinegar. If you must use distilled vinegar, use 2 tablespoons with 1 tablespoon of water.
Optional. Fresh seedless grapes are baubles of sugar in October. Add 8-10 per person. If you prefer, California Cuties, tiny little seedless sweet citrus fruits that break easily into sections are a great addition to this salad. They come into season in November. Get one per person and peel it and break it into sections.
1) Assemble the dressing in a bowl, and whisk it together. Put the dressing in a cruet or jar with a lid so you can shake it well and serve it on the side. I never dress salads in advance. They get soggy waiting for dinner, and some folks like lots of dressing while others prefer less.
2) Assemble the salad by laying down the bed of greens on individual plates. Top with the cheese. Keep chilled in the fridge.
3) Melt the butter in a pan or in a bowl in the microwave. Slice the apples into quarters, cut out the core and stems, and then cut the quarters in half again. Leave the skins on and toss them into the butter immediately before grilling so they can brown. Sprinkle lightly with salt, and mix until the apples are coated with butter.
4) Preheat your grill to medium hot and grill the apples briefly over direct heat, about 3 minutes per side, until they have golden grill marks. Don't let them blacken. Remove them and set them aside. You can let them sit around at room temp for an hour to room temp.
5) When it is time to serve put the warm apples on the cold salad. Now we will heat and brown the nuts slightly to increase their flavor. Put the nuts in a dry frying pan on medium heat. Stand there and watch them for a minute or two and then shake the pan so the nuts flip over more or less. When they start to darken and get fragrant, dump them into a bowl. Get them out of the pan so they don't burn from the residual heat in the pan. Sprinkle on the salad and serve with the dressing on the side.