Friday, September 21, 2012

Apple Salad With Cinnamon Yogurt Sauce

ACK!  It's almost fall!  Mostly I'm sad about that; I'm a spring/summer person.   But there are a few perks to fall: 1) jeans.  I really hate wearing capris.  I've missed my jeans!  2) My skin usually improves.  No idea why.  3) Comfort food!  I feel guilty eating comfort food in the summer.  Like I'm a sinner if I don't eat salad twice a day.  But once the weather turns cold, bring on the rolls and the gravy!  4) Apples.  I love how apple prices get super low in the fall and I can make apple cake or apple pie dirt cheap!  Here is one of my favorite fall apple recipes.  I invented it myself.  It's kind of a variation on Waldorf salad, only way yummier.  Think Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory's "apple pie" caramel apple.   In fact, it can barely be called a salad--it's good enough to be a dessert.  (Just the way a salad should be!)

Apple Salad With Cinnamon Vanilla Yogurt Sauce and Candied Pecans

7-8 crisp apples, washed.*  I like half red and half yellow ones.  (Not Granny Smith!)
2 single-serving containers vanilla yogurt
1 bunch red grapes (about enough to fill a measuring cup)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup pecan pieces
1/3 cup sugar

* It took me years to figure out how to get a nice, crisp, non-mealy apple.  There are two keys:  1) The kind of apple.  My favorites are Braeburns, with Galas and Johnathans as runners up, and Golden Delicious if you like a sweeter apple. Don't buy red delicious- they are always mealy.  I don't like Fujis for that reason either--too inconsistent.   2) Squeeze the apple.  You shouldn't be able to feel any give, no matter how hard you press your fingertips into the apple.  If you feel the apple give under your fingers, forget it.  It's a mealy apple.  A rock hard apple will be crisp and delicious!

Here are your ingredients:

First you will make your pecans.  This is the most time intensive part of the recipe, and it takes all of 5 minutes.  You want to prep your landing zone first.  So lay out a square piece of aluminum foil and spray it with Pam.   Also spray your stirring spoon with Pam--caramelized sugar is hard to get off, even in the dishwasher!  Then, in a small saucepan (also sprayed with Pam) on medium heat, dump your pecans and sugar.  Stir occasionally (every 20-30 seconds) until you start to notice the sugar crystals melting on the bottom of the pan.  At this point, lower the heat a little and start stirring pretty continuously (about every 5 seconds).  Your sugar will first melt (clear) and then begin to caramelize (golden, like caramel!).

This process will simultaneously brown your nuts and crisp them up.  But you don't want them to burn--which can happen pretty fast once the sugar melts-- so as soon as you see the sugar pretty liquefied (either clear or golden) and sticking to the nuts, remove the nuts from the heat and pour them onto the foil.  Spread them out with your stirring spoon so that they are pretty flat, not in mounds.  Let them cool while you make the rest of the salad.

For the salad, cut the grapes in half and throw them in a big mixing bowl. Don't use the bowl you'll serve them in because it's going to get pretty messy.  Next cut the apples. If you don't have one of these handy gadgets, go get one!  They're brilliant.  They slice and core the apple at the same time. 

You want the pieces to be bite size, so cut the slices into chunks and throw them in with the grapes.  (I don't peel my apples--they brown too quickly if you do.  Plus, the color of the salad is much better with the skins on.)

Next pour in both containers of vanilla yogurt.  Add the cinnamon.  Stir it all up really nicely.  Cover and refrigerate until you're ready to serve.


Just before serving, break up the pecans.  I like to cover them with a little wax paper and smash them gently with a meat hammer.  But you could put them in a baggie and hit them with a heavy book or something a few times if you don't have a meat hammer.  It doesn't matter.  Just make sure they're broken into small pieces because they will have cooled into a giant hard sheet of nuts.  Then transfer your salad into a pretty bowl, and sprinkle with the candied pecans.

Voila!  The prettiest, yummiest thing healthy enough to get away with being called a salad!

1 comment:

L. said...

Or maybe cashews? Perhaps if they are candied they would be crisp. I'll bet the flavor would be fabulous! Doesn't Costco sell a huge jar of candied cashews? (Be still my heart!)