For a healthy holiday side dish or a simple weeknight dinner, this Tossed Salad with Apple Butter Vinaigrette boasts the best ingredients that autumn has to offer! Full of crisp green apples, crunchy toasted walnuts, sweet cranberries and rich blue cheese, it’s a hearty, fresh, and satisfying recipe that celebrates the season.
I have my mom to thank for this tossed salad inspiration, and as soon as she mentioned it to me I went to work in the kitchen!
My parents went on vacation to their house at the Vineyard earlier this month. It was the start of fall, the quiet, cool, off-season on the island, and instead of driving straight through from Virginia to the Cape in a rush to reach the ferry, they decided to take it slower this time. Instead, they made an overnight pit stop in Mystic, Connecticut to break up the trip. There’s a restaurant in Mystic that my dad had been to many years before, and it was so good that he’s been dying to share it with my mom ever since. Perfect opportunity!
After their dinner at Anthony J’s Bistro, my mom sent me a photo of the tossed salad that she had ordered as an appetizer. In particular, she was raving about the unique apple butter dressing that paired so perfectly with the rest of the autumnal ingredients.
Since I love a salad that combines a variety of textures and flavors, I knew that this recipe would be delicious. Apples, walnuts (or pecans), cheese, and sweet dried cranberries transform the dish from boring leafy greens into a simple-yet-elegant side.
While I think that it would be an ideal lighter component to a rich, festive Thanksgiving spread, I also think that the tossed salad works well for a regular weeknight dinner. It’s so easy to “toss” together that it’s ready in a matter of minutes, and it can be prepped in advance for even faster meals. If you add leftover roasted turkey, chopped rotisserie chicken, or even a nice piece of fish, you’ll have a nourishing and fresh entree in less than 30 minutes!
The apple butter dressing is very similar to a regular vinaigrette that’s sweetened with honey or maple syrup, only this time the sweetener of choice is a subtle apple flavor in the background. As my mom said, it’s the perfect addition to the best seasonal ingredients!
Autumn's Best Tossed Salad with Apple Butter Vinaigrette
Yield 4 servings
For the Vinaigrette:
¼ cup apple butter
¼ cup balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar
½ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of garlic powder
Pinch of pepper
For the Salad:
½ cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
8 cups mixed greens
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup crumbled blue cheese (or substitute with an equal amount of feta cheese or goat cheese)
1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place walnuts or pecans in a shallow pan and toast in the oven until fragrant (about 5-7 minutes), stirring halfway through. Set aside to cool.
To prepare the Apple Butter Vinaigrette:
Combine all of the ingredients in a jar with a lid. Shake vigorously until completely combined. The dressing can be prepared up to a week in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To assemble the salad, place mixed greens in a large serving bowl. Add cranberries, blue cheese, and apple. Pour dressing over top, to taste (you probably will not need all of the dressing in the jar). Toss to coat. Add nuts to the top of the salad just before serving.
Want to Serve this as a Main Dish? Just add some rotisserie chicken on top for extra protein, increase the amount of nuts and cheese to make it more filling, or just serve a nice loaf of Fresh bread on the side.
Serving Size 1/4 of the salad with 2 Tablespoons of Vinaigrette
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 29 g
Saturated Fat 6 g
Cholesterol 12.7 mg
Sodium 465 mg
Total Carbohydrates 26 g
Dietary Fiber 5.1 g
Sugars 19 g
Protein 7 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
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