|CRISPY APPLE SALAD FOR FALL|
Fall and ApplesI am a little wistful this time of year. The days are getting shorter and with it the light is different. It’s changed and there is a sense of trying to finish what one has started. The birds are busy pairing up and building their nests, and the temperature dips down at night. I love it, but I know what is coming, winter. I am lucky that winter here just means rain and cooler weather. I don’t have to shovel snow, or drive in it. I just have to keep the mud out of the house.
Growing up in Michigan, I couldn’t wait for those wintry days. It meant staying inside and listening to music, practicing violin, or baking with my mom. It also meant playing billiards (what we called pool) in a friend’s basement, or playing cards around the table each evening, and of course, lots of snow and cold weather to go sledding and skating. It was an ideal place to grow up, but as an adult, I much prefer Northern California weather. When fall hits Sonoma County, the grapevines start to turn yellow then burgandy, before loosing their leaves all together. I love each rendition as it plays out, and when it rains, its more lovely than ever to see the hills go from golden to bright green. Its something to look forward to.
Fall’s arrival is something else to look forward to, it brings with it the most delicious apples into the market. When I am choosing eating apples, I look for ones that are unusual or have a tart and sweet complexity of flavor. Some of my favorites are Fujii, Gravenstein, Mutsu, Braeburn, Arkansas black, Pink Pearl and Galas. When buying, try to choose what naturally grows in your region. Apples that are meant to be growing in your area will naturally taste better. Plus, you will support your local growers and producers and be keeping an heirloom variety alive. Look at the link below for varieties across the U.S. http://www.allaboutapples.com/varieties/.
As the days grow shorter, be thinking about books you want to read, seeds for early winter planting or seed collecting for Spring planting. Curl up with a book, and begin to think about how you will unwind during the winter months ahead. Happy Cooking!
Crisp Chopped Apple Salad with Creamy Yogurt Dressing
This crunchy, sweet and nutty salad is perfect for fall. Serve it over a bed of arugula or frissee or serve it as an accompaniment to roasted Delicata squash. The mint and cilantro really perk up the flavor of the apples.
For the Salad:
2 crisp Northern Spy or other heirloom apples, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 TBS green onions or shallots, finely chopped
4 TBS cilantro, chopped
4 mint leaves, chiffonade
2 TBS pecans, toasted and chopped
1 TBS currants
Arugula or Frisee
Before chopping the apples, chop the green onions, cilantro, mint leaves and currants and put them in a bowl. Toast the pecans for about 5-7 minutes, watching closely so they don’t burn. After they cool, chop in half. Peel the apples and core and chop into bite size pieces. Toss together with the other ingredients while adding the dressing. The dressing will prevent the apples from going brown.
For the dressing:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp, Greek, non-fat, plain yogurt
1 TBS white vinegar, white balsamic
1 tsp cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Whisk the vinegars together and slowly add the extra virgin olive oil until it emulsifies, then add the yogurt and continue whisking. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss into the apple salad until they are coated and there is a little left for arugula or frissee underneath.
Recipe by Tricia O’Brien