Apple and Blue Cheese Salad

As much as I would like to live a life filled with decadent disregard for things like calories and extra pounds, a life packed with things like porchetta and chicharon and chocolate truffles, the reality of it all is that, sigh, I do have to think of these things (sometimes!). Truth be told though, I am not always the fat-gobbling, calorie-consuming Braveheart that I sometimes paint myself to be. Oh, that is definitely a big part of who I am, but I also love vegetables and fish and food that won’t kill you. I guess at the end of the day, I can say that I am an equal opportunity eater: everything gets an equal opportunity to be eaten by me.

After all of the holiday’s feasting, it was time for a little restraint. Not the restraint you would equate with suffering and deficiency, as this salad does not in any way evoke either. It was just time to eat a little lighter…something both my tightening jeans and taste buds where telling me. Yes, it happens…even to a voracious pork lover like me…I was in the mood for a salad.

I threw this salad together based on ideas and inspiration from the salad recipes in Donna Hay’s The New Cook. She has so many wonderful-sounding salads! In fact, the dressing I use here is hers as well (from her magazine, Spring issue 23). So this salad basically sprung from the crossroads of: her recipes, what I had available, and a surfeit of apples from the Christmas season.

Apple and Blue Cheese Salad
  • a bunch of red and green curly lettuce
  • a bunch of arugula
  • 2 apples, chopped into cubes
  • 1 medium onion, sliced as thin as you can manage
  • a small hunk of blue cheese (depending an taste)
  • a knob of butter
  • a pinch of brown sugar and freshly cracked black pepper

- Wash your greens and dry with a paper towel (I have a salad spinner but I find myself rolling the greens in a paper towel more and more often instead).
- Melt butter in a pan, once it’s clear and bubbly toss in apples and sprinkle with a pinch of sugar and pepper (to taste). Let apples cooked a little until the sides are a tad caramelized.
- Arrange lettuce on a plate, top with arugula, then the onions, then apples.
- Crumble blue cheese on top and drizzle dressing over everything (or, if you are like my mother, serve the dressing on the side).

Herb Dressing
(from Donna Hay Magazine, Spring issue 23)

  • ¾ cup basil leaves
  • 2 ½ tablespoons rinsed capers
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Process in a food processor until just combined (I used an immersion blender).

That’s not all we had! We also enjoyed a strawberry yogurt smoothie with our salad.

Strawberry Yogurt Smoothie
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup natural yogurt
  • 2 cups strawberries
  • ice
  • honey to taste

- Blend everything but the honey in a blender.
- Taste.
- Add honey to sweeten, if needed.
- Makes 3 glasses.

I so enjoyed this meal! The different components of the salad seemed to interplay perfectly with one another: the apple, the onion, the blue cheese…even the dressing. I really liked that I had pan-seared the apples first (fyi, Donna did it with pears). I was quite pleased with myself, and am now happily thinking up of all kinds of salads I can make for me and C (who is an absolute vegetable lover by the way). The smoothie was good…but could have been better as our strawberries weren’t that sweet…hence the honey.

Is this the end of fatty foods for me? Hardly. Only the beginning of more variety!