I think I have mentioned this in previous postings, but one of the many things my husband and I share is a mutual love of cooking, and trying our best to be 'foodies'. Back when we first started out (and before having children put a damper on our restaurant attendance!), we still had a couple of big obstacles to the foodie lifestyle:
1) we didn't have much money
2) we both had very little spare time to go out for a gourmet meal
Being a "starving artist" , I was quite used to being left wanting in the fancy-dinners-out department, and my new husband's training stipend didn't lend itself to much more than weekly Pho orders! On special occasions, however, we would take out the pennies we had scraped together, find a good restaurant, and savor every bite. If something was extra-delicious, we would try to figure out how to make a similar version at home.
This salad is a play on one of our favorite starters from those early days; a simple riff on a classic Waldorf. It is a delicious autumn mix of crunchy pecans, crisp apples, sweet dates, and juicy grapes, tossed with chèvre over wild greens and a balsamic dressing... I think our home-made version is better than anything similar we had going out! Almost a decade later, we are thankful that we no longer have to scrape our pennies together, but we are still making this salad - and enjoying every bite!
Harvest Waldorf Salad
makes about 8 portions
1 large granny smith apple
1 large gala or honey crisp apple
1 cup of red grapes
1 cup pitted dried dates (plus more if desired. I don't like my salad too sweet!)
3/4 cup pecan halves
4 ounces of chèvre cheese (soft goat cheese)
6 cups mixed baby greens
Balsamic Dressing Recipe
1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar (the syrupy kind, not the watery kind!)
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoon honey
salt & ground black pepper
Rinse & dry the apples, grapes, and greens. Take each apple and core. Then, cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Place into a large mixing bowl. Give the apples a quick squirt of lemon, and toss (to prevent browning)
Halve the grapes and slice the dates into thirds. Add to the bowl.
Roughly chop the pecans and combine with the fruit.
Take the chèvre and break into several chunks and add to the bowl. Mix well to combine.
To make the dressing, whisk all of the ingredients in a small bowl and salt & pepper to taste.
Using individual salad plates, take about a 1/2-3/4 cup of greens and slightly mound. Spoon a generous helping of the fruit/nut mixture on top. Gently swirl the balsamic dressing on top.
* I also like to serve this family style, by mixing all of the ingredients together into a large salad bowl and serving the dressing separately.