This past weekend, my husband and I had a few friends over for a couple hours in the evening, so, naturally, I made dessert. I even planned ahead and made this dessert, some toffee bars, the day before and stuck them in the fridge. The only problem? I forgot to cut them them before refrigerating them. About 45 minutes before our company arrived, I pulled the bars out of the fridge, and my gallant husband went to work cutting them into squares. They were so hard they bent the metal spatula, and we took turns sawing away right up until our friends arrived (and then we crept back into the kitchen at intervals to refresh the dessert plate). So much for an easy dessert.
We also laid out apple slices: Honeycrisp and Fuji. This of course took about 30 seconds to prepare, yet the apples were received with just as much enthusiasm as the buttery, sugary, chocolatey toffee bars. It’s apple season. Apples are what we’re all craving.
This salad makes the most of apple season. The apples, candied hazelnuts and sharp, creamy Gorgonzola cheese give it a warm fall flavor. Although the flavors are very different, each one is bold enough to stand alone, so none of the flavors clash or disappear.
Using dark, leafy greens in this salad boosts the nutrition content. And even if hazelnuts make you think “candy” or “hazelnut spread slathered on crepes,” hazelnuts, like most nuts, are actually heart-healthy and packed with vitamins. They even contain more folate than any other tree nut. To make this recipe even healthier, you could toast the hazelnuts instead of using candied hazelnuts. Either way, it’s a delicious salad to serve as a side dish, or, with some grilled chicken, as a main course. And, to make the most of the fall weather, it’s a great meal to enjoy on the patio!
- CANDIED HAZELNUTS:
- 1½ cups hazelnuts (if using whole, remove the skin)
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt (plus more to taste, if desired)
- 3 large egg whites
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon deli-style mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Mixed greens or baby Romaine
- Fuji apples, sliced
- Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, mix hazelnuts, sugar and salt. Lightly whisk the egg whites and stir them into the hazelnut mixture, making sure the hazelnuts become well coated. Spread this mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake 15-20 minutes until nuts are golden brown.
- Remove the pan from the oven and separate the hazelnuts from each other and from any pools of the sugar mixture. This allows each hazelnut to cool individually and avoids excessive stickiness.
- While the hazelnuts cool, prepare salad ingredients and balsamic vinegar. For the balsamic, shake all ingredients together in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.
- Arrange all salad ingredients and enjoy!