Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Autumn Salads

It is autumn in England and the hedgerows and orchards are full of nature’s bounty. Blackberries, plums, apples and pears are ripe and plentiful. Apple varieties with evocative names like Ellison Orange, Peasgood Nonsuch, Norfolk Royal and Micklemas Red are easily available, as is the ever-popular English Cox apple. Pears start with the early Onward variety followed later in the season by Beurre Hardy and Conference. It is also a great season for nuts, particularly chestnuts, walnuts and cobnuts.

Now, the words ‘autumn’ and ‘salad’ might not immediately spring to mind as ones that go together, but trust me, they do. By combining autumn fruits, nuts and leaves you can make wonderful side - and even main course - salads that are perfect for the autumn season.

This recipe is one of my favourite side salads for this time of year. It juxtaposes the tart, crisp flavour of the fruit against pungent nuts and tangy Balsamic vinegar. Even people who normally don’t like salad like this one. It’s also incredibly good for you. Aside from the nutrients and antioxidants in the fruit, walnuts also contain good for you omega three fatty acids and antioxidants.

For some reason I always peel the pears but never the apples. I find pear skin can be a bit tough, but apple skin gives a nice crunch to the salad and I love the colour it adds. Be sure to prepare the fruit at the last minute though, just before you toss the salad in the dressing, to prevent it from going brown. I also like the way whole walnut halves look in this salad, but if you prefer to chop them, or only have walnut pieces to hand, that is absolutely fine too. This recipe makes enough for four to five generous servings.

The 21st Century Housewife's©
Nutty Apple and Pear Salad with Balsamic Dressing

2 crisp red skinned apples, cored and chopped
2 pears, peeled, cored and chopped
½ cup walnut halves
1 large bag of ready to use mixed salad leaves

For the dressing:-
3 tablespoons walnut oil
2 tablespoons good Balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon white sugar

Shake the dressing ingredients together in a jam jar or other container with a lid.

Put the salad leaves in a serving bowl and add the walnuts and chopped fruit. Pour the dressing over the salad and lightly toss to mix. Serve immediately.