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Spinach Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Apples, Dried Cranberries and Blue Cheese

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Albany/HV: Spinach Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Apples, Dried Cranberries and Blue Cheese
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SERVES:
4-6

INGREDIENTS:

approx. 12-16 ounces spinach
1 cup walnut halves and pieces (toasted if desired)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3-4 apples, cored and thinly sliced

crumbled blue cheese as needed to finish

for the vinaigrette:

1 cup apple cider (reduced to 1/3 cup)
2 Tbs finely diced onion (optional)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbs apple cider vinegar

PROCEDURE:

To make the vinaigrette, add 1 cup apple cider to a small heavy bottomed pot on the stovetop and add an optional 2 Tbs finely diced onion and cook that along to reduce down to about 1/3 cup total.

Turn the heat down to medium or so once it gets going along and, while you're keeping your eye on that, you can add lots of depth of flavor to the salad by toasting the walnuts.

Place a large, heavy bottomed pan on the stovetop on medium to medium high heat, add 1 - 2 tsp vegetable oil and a generous 1 cup of walnut halves and pieces and cook those along until you can start to smell the walnuts toasting, season with salt to taste and take out of the pan to cool.

Once the apple cider has reduced down to 1/3 cup add it to a large mixing bowl and add 1/4 cup vegetable oil and 3 Tbs apple cider vinegar and whisk it up and add 1/2 cup dried cranberries.

The idea is to let the cranberries absorb a little bit of the liquid as the dressing is cooling down to room temperature.

When you're ready to assemble the salad, core and slice as many apples as you like, adding them to the bowl and tossing them to coat as you go, and then add as much of the one pound bag of spinach as you need and toss that to coat.

Divide it up onto individual plates and finish with the toasted walnuts and crumbled blue cheese.

HINTS:

Substitute other greens for the spinach if you like.

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