Today I’m sharing an easy, refreshing salad that is perfect for a weekday meal or as part of your Thanksgiving feast! The colors are festive, and the sweet nutty flavor of the greens pairs beautifully with crunchy apple and walnuts in this fresh fall salad. Optional gorgonzola is a creamy accent for blue cheese lovers.
After visiting the California Endive Farm last summer, I’m using Belgian endive in salads as an alternative to lettuce more often. (If you missed reading about that adventure, check out “How Do You Pronounce “Endive”?) I discovered that Trader Joe’s has a cute little package with three endives: two green and a red, the perfect portion when serving two or three people. Each little compact head can be thinly sliced and added to a salad. The light green and red endive are so pretty with the dark green arugula!
Add some thinly sliced apple or pear for crunchy sweetness, and some chopped California walnuts. Use candied walnuts if you want to be fancy! (Trader Joe’s has a small bag of candied walnuts, or you can make your own.) The dresssing? Make your own simple vinaigrette or buy Trader Joe’s Champagne Pear Vinaigrette (with gorgonzola).
Speaking of walnuts, I haven’t yet written about my recent trip to northern California with the California Farm Water Coalition to learn about agriculture in the region just north of Sacramento. I’ll be posting more about the trip, but for now I’ll introduce you to Stan Lester of Lester Farms in Winters, Ca. He took a few hours out of his day to talk about his love of agriculture and show us how walnuts are harvested.
When Stan Lester was growing up on his parents’ farm in Santa Clara, the family grew peaches, cherries and apricots. Even though the soil, climate, and growing conditions were among the best in the world for agriculture, farmers were forced out of the area as Silicon Valley businesses took over the land. The family moved to an area north of Sacramento, and transitioned to growing walnuts and prunes.
Stan explained that trees are just like people. They need water, nutrients, and vitamins. Using technology, farmers are able to monitor and analyze the trees’ need for water by using water sensors that send data directly to their phones or tablets. Soil and leaf analysis allow the farmer to keep track of the nutritional needs of the trees. Farmers also monitor for diseases and insects that can damage the crops.
Weather is one of the biggest challenges to farming. As much as farmers hope for rain, storms can interfere with harvesting and make it necessary to work long days during the short period when their crops are ready. After investing a whole year of work, care, and financial commitment into a crop, farmers have one chance to ‘collect the pay check’ by delivering their crops to market. Sometimes this requires working 10-12 hour days and 7 days a week to bring in the harvest.
I’ll be sharing more about our trip very soon, but right now I’d better give you this tasty salad recipe!
- 3 heads of Belgian endive, a combination of green and red
- 1½ cups arugula
- I fresh apple, cored and thinly sliced
- ¼ cup chopped California walnuts or candied walnuts
- 3 tablespoons Trader Joe's Champagne Pear Vinaigrette or vinaigrette dressing of your choice
- 2 tablespoons crumbled gorgonzola (optional)
- Wash and slice the Begian endive into a medium salad bowl.
- Add the arugula and stir gently to distribute evenly.
- Core the apple and cut into thin slices, arranging them on top of the greens.
- Sprinkle the walnut pieces on top of the apples.
- Add the dressing and toss the salad.
- Sprinkle the gorgonzola on top. (optional)