Before I tell you what’s in this candied walnut salad, let me tell you a tale of a Christmas party a couple of years ago. I was assigned to make salad for more than 100 people and this salad immediately came to mind.

“Ooh, I know, I know!” I said. And I told the people in charge what was in the salad.
“Hmmmm…I don’t know…a lot of people don’t like those things…”
“Just trust me,” I told them.
They were hesitant. There was discussion of leaving things off the salad and letting people put the toppings on themselves. Finally, the night of the party came and, as things tend to do at large gatherings like that, it became very hectic and we put everything in the salad, thus eliminating the option for people to top their own salads. And guess what? Every single bite of salad got eaten. There was not enough. This recipe has been requested of me more times than any other recipe I have. So trust me, little chickens–I promise not to lead you astray!

Before you get started–even a few days before–go ahead and make the Honey Red Wine Vinaigrette dressing.
Wash and chop lettuce. Set aside to drain.
Now…Sara’s method for caramelizing nuts is awesome, and it’s especially good for oily nuts like macadamias and cashews. However, walnuts are lower in oil and I like doing them this way because I don’t have to worry about putting them in the oven. Because, you know, one less dish to wash is never a bad thing in my house.
 Anyway, to candy the nuts, combine walnuts and sugar in a medium skillet over medium heat.
Stir constantly. After a few minutes, the sugar will look very fine and then a few minutes after that, it will start to liquefy.
This is when you have to be absolutely vigilant about scraping the bottom of the skillet and making sure everything gets stirred around. The syrup will begin to darken and will coat the nuts. When they reach a golden brown color, remove from heat. Stir occasionally as the nuts begin to cool. After a few minutes, spread candied nuts onto a greased piece of parchment or wax paper or a greased cookie sheet and allow to cool completely. Set aside.

Chop blue cheese or Gorgonzola very finely. You want crumbles, not chunks. If blue cheese absolutely gives you the ookies and you CANNOT handle the thought of it (the flavor in the salad will be very mild, I promise!), you can use another strong cheese like feta. But I really, really think you should use the real thing… 🙂

Chop apples and toss in orange juice.

When ready to serve, toss lettuce, cranberries, walnuts, apples, and blue cheese in a large bowl.
Add dressing if desired;
best thanksgiving salad recipe
it really is better all mixed together rather than on top, but the dressing will wilt any leftovers.


So there we have it!

You guys have your work cut out for you, but Sara and I–we’ll be kicking back in our pajama pants with some hot cocoa because we are DONE cooking for December! That’s not entirely true–we’ll be around for the rest of the month, but all the recipes that we post will be easy, low-mess, low-fuss recipes to help you enjoy the craziest part of the holiday season.

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Serving Candied Walnut Apple Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 heads leafy greens like Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 3/4 cup Craisins
  • 2 sweet, crisp apples (like Honeycrisp), cored and diced
  • About 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 ounces crumbled blue or Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 recipe Honey Red Wine Vinaigrette (linked below)

Instructions

Prepare dressing (this can be done a few days in advance).

Place chopped lettuce in a large salad bowl. Set aside.

To candy the nuts, combine walnuts and sugar in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir constantly. After a few minutes, the sugar will look very fine and then a few minutes after that, it will start to liquefy. This is when you have to be absolutely vigilant about scraping the bottom of the skillet and making sure everything gets stirred around. The syrup will begin to darken and will coat the nuts. When they reach a golden brown color, remove from heat. Stir occasionally as the nuts begin to cool. After a few minutes, spread candied nuts onto a greased piece of parchment or wax paper or a greased cookie sheet and allow to cool completely. Set aside.
 
Chop blue cheese or Gorgonzola very finely. Set aside.
 
Chop apples and toss in orange juice.
 
When ready to serve, toss lettuce, cranberries, walnuts, apples, and blue cheese in a large bowl. Add dressing if desired; it really is better all mixed together rather than on top, but the dressing will wilt any leftovers.


Nutrition

  • Calories: 144kcal
  • Sugar: 17g
  • Sodium: 12mg
  • Fat: 4g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 24g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Cholesterol: 0

 

54 comments

  1. I made this for Christmas dinner and loved it!! This is my new favorite salad. And Kate’s right about the walnuts – you can’t even tell that they’re walnuts. My mother in law asked me if it was popcorn (caramel corn).

  2. i made this salad for an enrichment dinner and for a family christmas dinner we had…both times it was a hit! everyone loved it – including myself! :o) yum!

  3. Shara, you nailed it! 🙂 That’s exactly what it was. I seem perpetually destined for Enrichmenthood–I was on the E. committee for 2 years and now I’m the leader. In a completely different ward. Sigh.

  4. The conversation in your post sounds just like an enrichment committee conversation…

    the salad sounds great! I will be trying it for Christmas Eve dinner – Thanks!

  5. Your salad looks wonderful and perfect for the season. I love blue cheese, and really should use it more often.
    If I have leftover salad that is wilted from the dressing, I put in in a cheese sandwich.

  6. Great salad recipes are so hard to find. I’ll be taking this one to our street’s Christmas party this weekend! Thanks!

  7. This really sounds good, I’m bookmarking this and if i can swing it , I’m making this for Christmas Dinner, thanks!

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