One of my favorite things to do during the fall is attend festivals. It seems that there’s always an abundance of outdoor events going on this time of year whether it be in the city or the countryside. I guess this is due in part to weather that’s usually just right, not too hot and not too cold. Not to mention that for years in the U.S., communities celebrated the fall harvest with jubilant festivals. This past weekend, for the second year in a row, I attended the National Apple Harvest Festival  in Arendtsville, Pennsylvania (Adams County), a small town outside of Gettysburg and about an hour and a half drive from Washington, DC.
Lined with row after row of apple trees, the country roads leading to the festival give you a sense of anticipation before you even get to the ticket line. The festival was full of all kinds of treats – apple butter, apple sauce, apple pies, apple crisp, apple syrup, apple jelly, apple cookies, apple bread, apple fritters, apple pizza, fried apples, caramel apples, candied apples, apple daiquiris, apple cider … you name it. Needless to say, I ate way, way, way too much!
I came home with a half peck of Jonathan and Gala apples planning to make an apple crisp to share on the blog this week. However, after eating all of those apple goodies and then some, I figured I’d step up the cardio and take a hiatus from sweets this week. So I prepared an apple salad with apple cider vinaigrette instead. Next week I’ll deliver on the apple crisp.
Since I’m working on building up my repertoire of homemade salad dressings, it was fun to experiment with this vinaigrette using apple cider vinegar. Why go through the trouble of making your own dressing when you can just buy a bottle from the grocery store? Because it’s easy, fresh, and free of the preservatives and additives found in most store bought dressings. So give this salad and dressing a try. And don’t hesitate to add sliced grilled chicken on top for a heartier dish.
Also, consider checking out a local harvest festival in your area. Just do a Google search for “fall festivals” and the name of your town or area. You’ll be surprised by the interesting events you come across.
Apple Pecan Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Apple Pecan Salad
9 oz or 1 head of your favorite salad greens – romaine, spinach, etc.
1 cup of pecan halves
Gorgonzola Cheese (just enough to crumble over the salad)
1 apple (a red apple will do – red delicious, jonathan, gala, etc.)
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the pecan halves and toast on each side for about 2 minutes. Don’t burn the pecans, just warm them until they become a little fragrant. Remove pecans from heat and set aside.
Slice (or dice into 1/2 inch cubes) the apple and set aside. Now put your salad together in a large bowl starting with your greens. Add the sliced/diced apple over the greens, then sprinkle the pecans over the greens and apple slices followed by small crumbled pieces of gorgonzola cheese. Prepare the vinaigrette.
Apple Cider Vinaigrette
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbs apple cider
1 tbs minced shallot
1 tbs honey
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
Pinch of ground black pepper
Finely mince 1/2 shallot to get 1tablespoon of mined shallot. In a small bowl, add the apple cider vinegar, apple cider, minced shallot, honey, salt and pepper and briskly whisk. While whisking, slowly pour in (in a thin steady stream) the olive oil. Continue to briskly whisk as you pour in the oil. Whisk well for one to two minutes. Spoon vinaigrette over individual servings of the salad. Serve.