Apple walnut salad is an easy, beautiful side dish or entree. Crispy apples, crunchy walnuts, tart cranberries, and creamy gorgonzola on a bed of greens. It's bursting with freshness and flavor!
👩🏻🍳 Recipe Back Story
You know the feeling. Time is tight, you're hungry, you want something you can make quickly that will fill you up, taste good, still be healthy, and yet not leave you with a messy kitchen.
Basically the Holy Grail of weeknight dinners. Or apple walnut salad.
What makes this salad so great is that it combines a variety of flavors. The crispy sweetness of apples, tart bite of dried cranberries, nutty earthiness of walnuts, and sharp saltiness of gorgonzola crumbles come together over a bed of spring mix for healthy yet decadent dinner.
And to top it all off, your easy homemade dressing has a hint of lemony zing!
Fruits and vegetables are often viewed as two separate foods, to be enjoyed at different times. But combining them really gives you a great flavor profile.
Take for instance the refreshingly easy yet popular simple summer salad with fruits and veggies. The sweetness of the berries and the fresh taste of vegetables drizzled with a tangy glaze makes for a light, yet wholly satisfying lunch.
Or the sweet and tangy broccoli and snow pea salad with apple butter dressing. Mmmm. The sweet, tangy, and crisp flavors that combine in this fresh, summery salad are delightful.
And now you can also enjoy apple walnut salad, which adds nuts and dried cranberries to the fresh garden veggies and fruit for an entree salad that is both filling and perfectly yummy.
These healthy ingredients provide many of the nutrients your body needs into a single meal.
Walnuts are rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. They are also purported to help with inflammation, gut health, and a host of other health issues.
Apples are a healthy prebiotic food, which means they're also great for gut health. High in vitamin C and polyphenols, there's also some truth about an apple a day keeping your doctor away.
Spring mix contains vitamins A, C, and K in addition to small amounts of protein, minerals, and iron. It's also a good source of fiber. The red onions provide essential amino acids as well as other nutrients.
This salad not only tastes great, but it's nourishing for your body. It's a light meal that won't weigh you down, but neither will it leave you hungry later at night. Because of the balance of healthy fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and the merging of all the flavors, it's incredibly filling and satisfying, which makes it an ideal weeknight dinner.
And it has the added benefit of being quick and easy to assemble and looking pretty, so it works great for company, too!
🥘 Ingredients Needed
- spring mix salad - is a mixture of greens, lettuces with bright fresh crunchy textures and flavors. Instead of purchasing several different types of lettuce, this bag has everything you want, affordably.
- dried cranberries - adds a nice tart bite.
- apples and walnuts - for crunchy texture and flavor.
- gorgonzola cheese - sharp and salty it crumbles nicely on top of the salad. If you need to substitute, feta cheese would be the next best thing.
- red onion - optional, but I enjoy the bite from the onion.
- olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice - for a quick homemade salad dressing.
- Mix together the salad dressing. Whisk the olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice in a bowl, or place in a jar and shake well.
- Chop the apples into bite-sized pieces.
- Add the spring salad mix to a large bowl. Top with cranberries, chopped walnuts, thinly sliced onions (optional), diced apples, and gorgonzola crumbles.
- Lightly dress the salad. I always keep in mind I can add more dressing but you can't take it away! Add it just a bit at a time.
💭 Top Tips
Make sure your salad doesn't get wilty.
Don't add the dressing until right before serving. Add about 3/4 of the dressing and toss, then add a little at a time and toss in between. Once everything seems to be well-coated, stop adding the dressing. Just enough really is enough!
Also, don't over-toss, which can crush the spring mix leaves and leave them looking less fresh than they really are.
Use the homemade dressing.
Salads are interesting when they are filled with freshness, texture, crunch, and sweetness. This salad has all of that, and then the freshly made dressing really ties it all together. Homemade salad dressings aren't as hard to make as you think and they add so much flavor, too!
Prep ahead of time.
Especially if you are making this for a holiday dinner, you might want to prepare some of it ahead of time. You can mix the dressing and store it in a container in the fridge. You can also measure out the other ingredients and store them in containers, ready to mix in when you are about to serve.
If you are really looking to streamline the last minute prep, you can even chop the apples a few hours ahead - simply toss the apple pieces in a little lemon juice and store in a container in the refrigerator.
Of course any apple will work but I recommend picking bright, crispy apples. Look for honeycrisp, pink lady, gala, or Fuji apples.
If you're looking for a sweet apple, reach for a Fuji. Golden and red delicious are super sweet too, just not as crunchy as what I prefer in this recipe.
Walnuts are the go-to for the salad. However, pecans or pistachios also add a bright delicious crunch!
After you open a bag of walnuts, store them in a sealed bag in the freezer. They will keep longer and stay more fresh.
Store them loose in the crisper in the refrigerator.
Helpful Hint: For the best natural and organic fruits and veggies, you have to try FarmBox Direct! I have used the service myself and I can vouch for the quality of the produce. And it's delivered right to your door, in special packaging to keep it fresh, so what's not to love!
🥗 Suggested Side Dishes
For a sweet treat at the end of the meal - these pretzel cookie bites are perfect!
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Apple Walnut Salad
- 10 ounces spring mix
- 2 cups dried cranberries
- 1 ½ cups chopped walnuts
- 2 large apples
- 1 ½ cups gorgonzola cheese
- ½ cup chopped red onion (optional)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, set aside.
- Dice the apples into bite-sized pieces.
- Right before serving, combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
- Pour about 3/4 of the dressing over the salad and toss. Keeping adding more dressing and tossing until all of the salad is coated but not soaked.
- Pro-tip: an easy way to mix the dressing is to place the ingredients in a medium jar, tightly close the lid and shake
- We generally skip the red onion because the kids don't care for it. It's still really delicious!
- Don't add the dressing until right before serving and toss gently. I generally end up having a little bit of leftover dressing.
- If you do accidentally add a little too much dressing, toss in a bit more spring mix and toss again to distribute the extra dressing.
- Try not to over-toss to keep the spring mix leaves from getting crushed and looking wilty.
- You can change up this salad by using blue cheese and pears instead of gorgonzola and apples.
- Or you can try pecans or almond slices instead of walnuts.
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