Fall is here and you need to celebrate with this amazing salad! I mean, also celebrate with chocolate chip pumpkin bread and pumpkin pancakes, but in the spirit of attempting to keep things balanced we’re doing a salad today. This salad combines so many of my favorite fall flavors – honeycrisp apples, toasted pecans, cinnamon vinaigrette – it really is SO good.
This beautiful and delicious recipe was created by How Sweet Eats, and as she mentions in her original post, it is kiiiiind of a high maintenance salad. Like a put it together on a Saturday afternoon when you’re not rushed kind of salad. This recipe is so absolutely perfect for Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving/Christmas/any celebration in the next three months, I would just prep the pecans, pepita clusters, and dressing in advance and assemble when you’re ready to serve.
For the salad:
- 2 bunches Lacinato kale, chopped or shredded
- 2 honeycrisp apples, thinly sliced
- 3 oz. freshly grated sharp white cheddar cheese
For the smoky honey pepita clusters:
- 1/2 cup pepitas
- 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 to 3 tbsp honey
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp salt
For the sweet and spicy toasted pecans:
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1 1/2 tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
For the cinnamon shallot vinaigrette:
- 1/3 cup EVOO
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 shallot, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- Prep the smoky honey pepita clusters. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Microwave the coconut oil and honey together until melted, about 30 seconds. In a large bowl, combine the pepitas with the honey mixture, salt and smoked paprika. Place on your baking sheet and smooth them out with a spatula.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and toss slightly. Let cool completely before breaking apart.
- Prep the sweet and spicy toasted pecans. Heat pecans in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until fragrant and toasty. Stir in the honey, red pepper flakes and nutmeg. Let the honey bubble and stir for a few minutes, then transfer the pecans to parchment paper and let them cool completely.
- Prep the cinnamon shallot vinaigrette. Whisk together the vinegar, honey, dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. This keeps great in the fridge for a few days!
- Assemble the salad. Time for the kale massage! Massage the kale with a tablespoon or so of the dressing and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the apples, cheese, pecans and pepita clusters and toss well. Top with the vinaigrette and enjoy!