Friday, January 22, 2016

Apple, Cheese and Walnut Salad

I don’t know how good I am at lightening up my meals and snacks in January. On the one hand, I quite like delicious, perky things like these lentils and this celery salad. On the other hand, I made a batch of these cookies earlier this week (with craisins in place of the apricots), and I just took a pan of brownies out of the oven.

To tip the balance slightly in favor of good behavior, I’ll share with you this delicious apple salad I made recently. The photos aren’t that great, since I have trouble with lighting this time of year, but you get the idea. It’s mostly apples, with a savory bend provided by scallions, parsley, salt and pepper. It also gets a big pucker-y kick from lots of lime juice.

I really liked the lime juice, here, and don’t think any other citrus juice would serve quite as well in its place (lemon juice might be good if it is sweetened slightly). I also really liked the walnuts and walnut oil combo. I used a good, roasted walnut oil and toasted the walnuts in the oven. Actually, I toasted the walnuts just to the edge of edibility, I think, but they were really, really flavorful.

I got my hands on a nice white cheddar cheese gently flavored with apples and cinnamon (I can’t remember if it was a Wisconsin or a Vermont product.) This beautiful cheese was perfect in this dish, but any good cheddar, especially a white cheddar, would be nice. Other cheeses would work, too, as long as you like them with apples.

Really, I was never much of a fan of the apple-cheese combination, but I loved it in this salad. Maybe that cheese takes the dish a little out of the light and healthy spectrum, but I’m happy for the protein in a fresh and zesty side. Besides, those brownies can’t have all the fun!

Apple Salad with Lime Juice, Walnuts and Cheese
Based on a recipe in Bon Appetit magazine

¾ cup chopped walnuts
2 apples, cored and coarsely chopped
½ cup scallions, thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1-2 limes)
2 tablespoons walnut oil
½ cup diced white cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread the walnuts out on a baking sheet. Toast in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until browned (but not burned). Set aside to cool.

2. In a medium-size bowl, combine the apples, scallions, parsley, salt and pepper. Toss together. Add the lime juice and walnut oil. Stir to coat well. Stir in the cheese cubes and walnuts.

Makes 4-6 side dish servings. Leftovers can be refrigerated for a few days, but the salad is best served right away.

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