This sweet and tangy, apple and blue cheese salad hits all the right spots. With its crisp, tart apples complimenting the sweet fig and balsamic dressing, the only thing you will need to make this dish perfection is some tangy, salty blue cheese! And while we think this salad is perfect for any time of the year, we find that the flavors really pop during the fall, when apples are in peak season.
Speaking of apples: We recommend using Gala apples as they work beautifully in this salad. But you can use whichever apple(s) you prefer, or whatever you are able to find in season. A crisp and slightly tart, but still sweet apple will work the best.
For the fig jam: This can usually be found in the fancy cheese section of the grocery store. Fig jam goes super well with all different kinds of cheeses, especially blue cheese, so we highly advise giving this a try. If you can't find fig jam, not a problem! You can substitute raspberry jam or another similarly sweet jam.
For the pièce de résistance (read: blue cheese), any kind will work for this salad. Though a nice creamy gorgonzola or Danish blue have had some delicious results.
We recommend using a high quality extra virgin cold pressed olive oil, as it has a more flavorful component that will make this salad taste much better than using a lower quality olive oil. Since you are not cooking with the olive oil, it's important for it to have a distinct and delicious flavor.
As for nuts: you can absolutely use other nuts like walnuts or almonds instead of the pine nuts, if you can't find them. You can also add in other crunchy items like sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.
- For the Dressing:
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons brown mustard
- 1 heaping tablespoon fig jam
- 1 garlic clove (grated on a microplane, or finely minced)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- For the Salad:
- 1/2 cup pine nuts (toasted)
- 1/2 of a gala apple (or fuji apple, sliced)
- 3/4 cup blue cheese (crumbled)
- 5 oz. container of Mesclun salad greens (or baby romaine)
In a medium sized measuring cup, measure the olive oil.
Add the balsamic vinegar, mustard, jam, garlic, salt and pepper to the olive oil in the measuring cup. Whisk thoroughly to combine. (You can also measure the olive oil and then add all of the ingredients to a jar, cover the jar and shake. The shaking or whisking will emulsify the dressing so that all of the ingredients combine perfectly.)
Add the pine nuts to a dry pan over medium high heat. Shake the pan frequently until the pine nuts are lightly toasted and golden brown. (The shaking will help prevent the nuts from burning.)
Remove from the heat and allow them to cool.
Place the salad greens in large serving bowl. Place the sliced apple over the top of the greens. Add the crumbled blue cheese and the cooled pine nuts.
Shake or whisk the dressing again to make sure the ingredients are evenly distributed. Then pour the dressing over the top of the salad. Toss gently and serve!