My daughter, Tricia, has the most amazing landlords, ever. It’s as if my little grandsons have three sets of grandparents: my husband and I, my son in-law’s parents, and the landlords (Shannon and Rusty). While my daughter and her family were down in Arizona visiting her in-laws over Thanksgiving, Shannon and Rusty decorated the outside of Tricia’s house with Christmas lights. They even put an inflatable Santa on the roof. Everything is on a timer and within minutes of Tricia, Tim, and the boys arriving home from Arizona last Sunday night, the lights came on and Santa inflated. The boys were absolutely ecstatic! But what kid wouldn’t be ecstatic?
Lights are one of my very favorite things about Christmas. They make everything sparkly and magical. And speaking of magical, have you ever laid under a Christmas tree and looked up through the branches at the Christmas lights? My grandson, Gavin, and I did that together one day last year. Gavin curled up next to me under the tree with his favorite blankie and we talked about all kinds of important things, including the answers to world peace.
When I was a kid and my family would drive the dark country roads to and from my grandmother’s house, I would watch in anticipation for a house decorated with Christmas lights. Houses were few and far between and Christmas lights on those houses made a statement of hope against the darkness that surrounded them. The lights signaled a feeling of joy and excitement in me, probably much the same feeling as my little grandsons enjoy each night when the Christmas lights on their house magically light up.
This salad reminds me of Christmas lights–the red, green, and white colors; the sparkle of the apples and the garnet red pomegranate arils; and the apple/cinnamon flavor in the salad dressing. It’s all very festive sitting there on a salad plate.
The recipe for the salad, itself, is very flexible. I used mixed baby salad greens, apples, pomegranate arils, blue cheese crumbles, and pumpkin seeds. Certainly the salad greens can be changed to whatever you prefer, exchange the blue cheese for whatever type of cheese you like, use your favorite nuts or other seeds instead of pumpkin seeds, and exchange dried cherries, currants, or dried cranberries for the pomegranate arils.
As for the salad dressing, of course you can tinker with it. We like it just the way it is and find that it is wonderfully complementary to the salad–just the right amount of sweet and tart. The cinnamon adds a nice flavor surprise, too.
Apple Salad with Apple Cinnamon Vinaigrette
For the dressing:
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup apple cider
- 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
- 4 teaspoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons honey mustard
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon very finely grated onion
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup neutral salad oil (see Notes)
For the salad:
- 5-6 ounces (weight) salad greens
- 1 red apple, cored and julienned (I prefer honey crisp, fuji, or gala)
- 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- blue cheese crumbles
- prepared orange juice for keeping the julienned apples from turning brown.
- For the Dressing: Whisk together, or whirl in a blender, all ingredients EXCEPT the oil. Slowly drizzle oil into ingredients while whisking briskly or whirling in blender. Cover and allow to sit in refrigerator for at least an hour to let flavors develop. Makes 1 1/3 cups dressing.
- For the Salad: Toss julienned apples in a little orange juice to keep them from turning brown. Drain well. Divide greens between four salad plates. Top with apples, pomegranate arils, pumpkin seeds, and blue cheese crumbles.
- Allow each guest to top salad with salad dressing. Store left-over dressing in refrigerator for up to three days.
Oil: My favorites are walnut oil or grape seed oil. I have also used canola oil, but its flavor is slightly heavier.
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