Salads are not just for summer, and this apple and walnut salad is proof as they can be dressed up or down depending on the season. Keep it as it is for the spring and summer, simple and straightforward, perhaps topped with a little feta cheese. In the autumn and winter, the salad becomes the base for a stunning entrée when topped with confit duck strips, and, if you want to take it further, serve with duck roasted potatoes. We guarantee you will love it as the combo of duck, walnuts, and salad is superb.
The salad is dressed here with a thick balsamic dressing, but if you wish to lighten it up, just use just a simple drizzle of lemon juice and good walnut oil instead.
- 1 cup walnut halves
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (good quality)
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 1 head crisp romaine lettuce
- 1 rib celery
- 2 scallions
- 2 Granny Smith apples
Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
Place the walnuts on a small baking sheet. Roast on the center oven rack for 7 minutes. The walnuts should be a lovely golden brown color and no darker (if they get too dark, they will become bitter).
In a small bowl or a ramekin, combine the olive oil and a little balsamic at a time, whisking as you go until you create a thick, glossy dressing. Taste the dressing and add a little salt and pepper to taste.
Chop the lettuce into strips and finely slice the celery and scallions. Keep to one side.
When you are ready to serve the salad, cut the apples into quarters, then remove the core, slice thickly, and cut the slices in half. You are looking for a nice small chunk of apple.
Divide the salad greens and veggies between bowls or assemble in a large serving dish, then sprinkle apples over the top of each. Gently crush the walnuts over each so all the pieces fall onto the salad. Using a teaspoon, drizzle with the dressing. Serve immediately.
- You may not use all of the vinegar, or you may need a little more—this will depend on the quality of balsamic you use. The older, more expensive kinds are quite thick to start with, so you may need very little.
- If you are not serving the salad immediately but want to prepare the apples, they will go brown if left for too long, so add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice to water and pour over the chopped apples. This will add a little flavor to the apples but will not take away from the delicious salad.
Add salty richness by topping with crumbled feta cheese, soft goat cheese, or sliced manchego cheese.
What Kind of Apples Are Good for Salads?
Crisp apples are the best for salads since they provide a deliciously fresh, crunchy texture. Choose a variety that pairs nicely with your other ingredients—a sweeter apple like Gala or Honeycrisp pairs well with especially salty, spicy, or tart ingredients like feta cheese or a lemon vinaigrette. A tart apple like Granny Smith pairs nicely with milder, sweeter ingredients, like chopped dates or a balsamic dressing.
What Nuts Go Well in Salad?
A variety of nuts work well in salad—choose a nut that works well with the existing flavors and provides a nice crunch. Pistachios and walnuts are delicious with fruity ingredients like citrus, avocado, and apple. Hazelnuts and pecans add toasty richness to a beet salad with cheese, while peanuts add their signature flavor to an Asian-style salad.