Thoughts of New York autumn's lead to apple orchards around every bend, burnt orange leaves on the mucky ground, and cold nights spent drowned in ancient family blankets. This past weekend, my boyfriend and I made the long journey to one of our favorite places, New York ski country. Ski country is nestled in the Appalachian Mountains about an hour south of Buffalo. The drive is humbling with small beauty marks waiting to be discovered everywhere.
This time was different. The landscape felt so unfamiliar, yet inviting. Our usual travel to ski country is for the white dust that crumbles under our twists and turns down the mountain. The trees in ski country had rebirthed their leaves into bold pigments and the gaping landscape had traded icy pearlescent snow for dark green meadows. The forests now held hidden secrets with their lush trees where they previously have been vacant. It looked nothing like Upstate New York. Our leaves have barely morphed into bright shades before flying away from their branches.
Our destination appeared as a giant farm with smiling young ones running about and flannel as far as we could see. The farm withheld pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, tiny barn house shops with maple syrup and cow corn cobs, a hand pressed cider mill on display, & old, rustic crates with different species of apples for picking. Following the tradition, I knew I had to pick up a few apples for my fall palate.
I was inspired to create something freshly fall with those apples, a bit of a juxtaposition. I came up with a salad that entails some acidic bite and welcoming sweetness. It includes another lovely of mine, homemade dried cranberries. I used to adore these as a child and making my own, without corn syrup and preservatives, made the salad way more desirable. This bountiful salad curbs the hunger for autumn without restraining you to the couch for hours.
Apple Cranberry Salad with Maple Herb Vinaigrette
// Salad //
- 2 1/2 ounces of spring mix
- 1 small cucumber, medium diced
- 2 stalks of celery, small diced
- 4 ounces of white onion, sliced extremely thin
- 1 small cortland apple, sliced extremely thin
- 3 ounces of fontina cheese, hand crumbled
- 2 leaves of sage, chiffonade
- 1/2 quart of fresh cranberries
- 4 cups of water
- 3 tablespoons of honey
- 1/8 teaspoon of salt
// Dressing //
- 4 ounces of herb olive oil
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
- 1 teaspoon of dried herbs de provence
- 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
- 3.5 ounces of water
- Preheat your oven to 300'F and boiling 4 cups of water over high heat. Put the cranberries in a medium sized bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Let the cranberries soak for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime whisk the olive oil, lemon juice & zest, salt, pepper, herbs de provence, dijon mustard, maple syrup, and sugar together in the bottom of your salad bowl. Pour in the white wine vinegar while whisking continuously. Lastly, gradually add in the water continuing to whisk, so that your dressing emulsifies properly. Place in the fridge until service.
- Drain the water from the cranberries and lay them out in an even layer on a sheet tray. Put the sheet tray in the oven for 20 minutes. Pull the cranberries out and flatten them with a spatula. Be careful as the juice may spatter. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle them with salt. Raise the temperature to 350'F and put the cranberries back in for another 10 minutes. Pull them out and scoop them into a plastic container with a lid. Put the container into the freezer for a final 10 minutes and then they're ready!
- Toss together the lettuce, cucumber, celery, onion, apple, sage, cheese, and dried cranberries in the cold dressing. The cranberries will still have a slight amount of juice and will color the apple slices transforming them into a water-color feature in the finished salad!