This Apple Cranberry Spinach Salad with Candied Walnuts is the perfect holiday side dish or an easy meal with the addition of chicken. It gets topped with blue cheese crumbles and a homemade, Creamy Apple Cider Vinaigrette dressing.
This is hands down my favorite kind of salad. I’m in love with the mixture of textures and the added sweetness from the apples, candied walnuts and cider dressing. If blue cheese isn’t your jam, feel free to substitute with a feta cheese. The salad is truly amazing with either one!
I prefer to make a quick, skillet version of candied walnuts to add an extra bit of crispiness and sweetness. There is no need to get out that cookie sheet and spend 45 minutes turning nuts. That kind of thing is enough to drive me nuts! Brown sugar is easily dissolved in the skillet with a pinch of cinnamon and salt until melted. Add the nuts and stir them until coated and transfer them onto parchment paper to dry. The hardest part of this process is trying to avoid eating all of them before they are put in the salad.
Let’s talk about the salad dressing for a second. I’m totally obsessed with Panera’s Fuji Apple Chicken Salad dressing. It is so sweet, tangy and bursting with apple flavor. I honestly, made 3 different versions until I was satisfied with the result. A bit of plain, Greek Yogurt gets added for a slightly creamy texture along with a generous amount of honey for sweetness. I found the honey to combine with the other flavors more seamlessly than using sugar or maple syrup. A bit of Dijon mustard adds a slight bit of tangy flavor to balance out the sweetness. If you don’t have a salad dressing shaker, a mason jar with a lid will work just fine to get everything nicely shaken up.
The arrival of November, means its time to start planning your Thanksgiving menu (yikes). Save time my making your mashed potatoes in a Slow Cooker. Try something new and exciting with this Salted Caramel Sweet Potato Casserole. An Apple Cider Moscato Sangria or Pumpkin Spice White Russian pair wonderfully with any holiday menu.
MORE TO LOVE
- 1 6 oz. bag of baby spinach
- 1 whole Granny Smith Apple; thinly sliced
- 1/2 c. dried cranberries
- 1/2 c. candied or roasted walnuts
- 1/4 c. blue cheese crumbles
- 1/3 c. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp. plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/4 c. honey
- 1 c. walnuts
- 1/2 c. brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 tbsp. water
If using Candied Walnuts, heat a small skillet on medium-high eat. Add the walnuts and periodically stir for around 3 minutes until fragrant.
Transfer the nuts to a plate. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, water, and salt to the same skillet. Stir until brown sugar is dissolved and add the vanilla. Add the walnuts and stir until coated; remove from the heat.
Transfer walnuts to parchment paper in a single layer.
Prepare the salad dressing: add all ingredients for the salad dressing to a container with a covered lid; shake until combined.
In a large bowl, layer the baby spinach, apple slices, walnuts, blue cheese and cranberries.
Drizzle with the salad dressing and lightly toss before serving.