Apple, Walnut Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

For Thanksgiving this year I plan on starting the dinner off with a fresh, crisp salad.  As there will be so much good food to look forward to, I like the starter salad to be light and flavorful with ingredients to compliment the meal that is coming.  The cranberry vinaigrette’s  lightly sweet tangy taste is balanced by the distinct gorgonzola cheese, crisp apples, greens and nuts.

Since I will be having a small gathering, I will keep my salad plates in the refrigerator until serving time and plate up a small serving for each guest.  If I were to have more than 8 guests, I would present the salad on a platter or bowl to be passed.  I’ve adapted Ina Garten’s tip on making the salad a few hours ahead of time putting the dressing on the bottom of the salad bowl and keeping it chilled.  When it’s time to serve, toss the salad incorporating the dressing from the bottom and then sprinkle on the toppings.

I’ve made this salad so many times over the years; I’m almost embarrassed to say it’s adapted from an old Bon Appetite recipe from 1995!   My Gina was 5 and Adam was 3.   It’s funny I remember past memories best when I associate the years on the ages of my children.  And I recall holidays from the menus I kept of those that I hosted.  That Thanksgiving must have been either at my sister or brother’s house as I don’t have a menu saved from that year!

Apple Walnut Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

For the vinaigrette:

¼ cup fresh cranberries or frozen thawed

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped red onion

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 full teaspoon dried herbs de provence

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the salad:

10 cups mixed baby greens

2 Red Delicious apples, cored, thinly sliced and tossed with a tablespoon of lemon juice

¼ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup gorgonzola or goat cheese, crumbled

½ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

To make the vinaigrette:

Puree the cranberries in a food processor until smooth.  Add in vinegar, onion, honey, herb and mustard and process until well blended.  With the processor running, slowly add the olive oil.  Transfer to a medium bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper.  Can be made on day ahead, cover, chill and bring to room temperature whisking before using.

To make the salad:

Combine the greens and apples in a large bowl.  When ready to serve, toss with enough dressing to lightly coat.  Sprinkle on the dried cranberries, walnut, and cheese.  Serve remaining dressing separately.  Serves 6 to 8.
This salad is part of my Thanksgiving Countdown.  If you’d like to share your favorite salad for Thanksgiving, please use Linky Tools here

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(I’ve just found out that WordPress doesn’t allow the links to show on my blog, but can be viewed by clicking on the above ‘Click Here” Linky Tools for a listing of those submitted. Also, below I will add the listing of submitted recipes. Just click on the title to view the recipe. I apologize for the glitches but don’t let that stop you from seeing some great recipes!)

Pumpkin and Couscous Rocket Salad by Eat, Play, Love

Warm Kale Salad with Apples, Cranberries and Pepitas by Smart Food and Fit

35 thoughts on “Apple, Walnut Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

  1. This is a lovely salad, Linda, one I can imagine eating as long as apples last. For me, it is too rich to serve on Thanksgiving when whipping cream, gravy and pie are out in force. We serve a tossed green salad with a bracing mustard vinaigrette to cut through all of the fat in the meal. And we overeat anyway, no matter how hard we try.

  2. This is divine, I honestly could eat this every day. i am not really into the rich sweet salads i see everywhere for thanksgiving so this would do me just fine!

  3. I could eat this salad all year round. The dressing sounds amazing! I love fresh cranberries for it’s antioxidant properties. I think I’m going to make this dressing tomorrow morning. I prefer to fill up on healthier lighter foods then save some room for the higher calorie side dishes and desserts.

  4. This salad hits all of the right notes for me. There’s something about apple in a salad that I find really appetizing and this salad would set the stage for the feast that’s to follow. And your plates, Lynda, are perfect for Thanksgiving and this salad. You think of everything!

  5. Now that looks so good – lots of lovely flavours and I love the tip about keeping the dressing at the bottom of the bowl. I too relate events and menus together and come up with the year! Funny how our minds work 🙂

  6. This is my kind of salad Linda! I love apples, walnuts and cranberries together – on a sandwich, in a salad. Mmmm! I love that you saved your menus from the years that you hosted. I do that with our Christmas Eve dinners (always just the four of us together). I should do that for when we host holidays too. By the way, I printed out your schedule and cleaned out my spice cabinet the other night! 🙂

  7. What a lovely salad. What an fun idea to process the cranberries for the dressing. Very clever. Gorgonzola and walnuts are 2 of my favorite salad toppings. Thank you for the entertaining tips. It’s always helpful to find ways to simplify when hosting a party.

  8. Hmm, we were going to go to Caroline’s three turkey event, but I think we’re coming to Florida instead. I carve well. Seriously, love your idea about keeping the plates cool and by that time there’s actually room in the fridge, as opposed to the day before.

  9. I’m loving the sound of that vinaigrette! They don’t really sell frozen cranberries here, but they’ll start selling fresh ones within the next month or so, so I’ll bookmark this for then! Plus – goat cheese!! That’s always a big +1 in my book!

    1. I don’t believe we have frozen cranberries either. I’ve included that as many times I will buy several bags and toss them in the freezer to have on hand throughout the winter months. I hope you try it out..with the goat cheese of course!

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