Apple-Fennel Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Fall is in the air and that means lots of apples around here.  And fresh pressed apple cider is in every grocery store right about now.  A classic flavor combination is pork, apples and fennel and a favorite way to combine those flavors is to stuff them into pork chops or a pork loin.  But I thought it would be fun to experiment with the same flavors in a different way.  Why not a fall salad instead?  And instead of pork chops what if I used prosciutto as the pork?  That got me excited and I went from there using the same flavors – apples and fennel as the main ingredients.

For the prosciutto I got the real thing (prosciutto di parma from Italy)  but if you can’t find that then any prosciutto will do.  The one from Italy is more expensive but the flavor is amazing and you really only need a few slices.  If you can get it sliced paper thin by the butcher or in the meat department it’s even better because the delicate texture almost melts in your mouth.

For the apples I used about a quarter of a tart green apple and a quarter of a honey crisp apple to give the salad a little sweet and a little tangy.  Of course save the rest of the apples or use either one instead of both.  And I wanted to incorporate apple cider into the dish as well so that’s where the apple cider vinaigrette came into the picture.  It reinforces the flavors and makes the perfect light dressing for both the apples and the frisee lettuce.  No frisee?  Any lettuce will do.  Butter lettuce would be a good substitute or even mixed greens.

Let’s talk presentation. This salad would be just as good tossed and served family style.  And honestly that’s how I’d serve it most of the time but for today’s blog I I decided to serve it ‘deconstructed’ for a couple of reasons.  First, with this presentation it can be a fun appetizer at a holiday party instead of just a salad it’s salad/app.  Second, I am gluten free but no one else is so instead of adding croutons I put crostini on the platter on the side and then guests could decide if they wanted to have a salad or make an apple-fennel crostini with frisee and prosciutto.  Any food that is a bit interactive is more fun anyway.  So you decide how you want to serve it up but don’t forget the toasted hazelnuts and the shaved Parmesan.  You need that crunch of some kind of nut and well Parmesan is just on everything.  Who am I kidding?

Happy Fall y’all.

Ingredients for Fall Salad – Apple & Fennel Frisee Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Apple Fennel Salad Ingredients

Apple Fennel Salad Ingredients

 

Make the Apple Cider Vinaigrette

  1.  In a medium dish add the chopped shallot and dijon mustard.
Chopped Shallot and Dijon

Chopped Shallot and Dijon

2.  Add in the apple cider, apple cider vinegar, and honey.  Whisk to combine.

apple cider vinairgrette

Apple cider vinaigrette

3.  Add the olive oil, salt and pepper and emulsify.

apple cider vinaigrette

Add olive oil and emulsify

4.  Cover and place in the fridge for later – can be made up to 3 days ahead and just whisk or shake to emulsify before serving.  I like to store mine in one of these easy pour salad dressing containers.

apple cider vinaigrette

Pour vinaigrette into container

The Salad

  1.  Cut the tops and ends off the fennel bulb. Discard the end but reserve the fronds for garnish for later.
fennel bulb

Cut ends off fennel bulb

*Reserve the fronds for garnish

2.  Using a mandolin or a sharp knife thinly slice the fennel bulb and then cut the core out and separate into thin pieces.

fennel bulb

Thinly sliced fennel bulb

3. Thinly slice about 1/4 of a red and green apple each and toss with a little lemon juice.  Then cut the slices in half.  Next move on to assembly!

Thinly slices apples

Thinly sliced red and green apples

*Squeeze a little lemon juice on apples and fennel to keep from browning

ASSEMBLING THE DISH

Depending on whether you are going family style or what is pictured here assembly will vary. Here’s the directions for what is shown in the picture: Start by tossing the torn pieces of frisee in a a little bit of the vinaigrette – just to coat them.  Then mound them on a serving platter and top the lettuce with chopped toasted hazelnuts and shaved Parmesan.  Garnish with pepper (if desired) and drizzle with more vinaigrette or serve some remaining vinaigrette on the side.  You will have plenty of extra vinaigrette.  Next create a row of prosciutto by slightly twisting each piece and placing it on the platter.  Serve about 2 per person.  On the other side of the prosciutto create a row of the apple and fennel slices and top with a small amount of the vinaigrette. This adds extra flavor but also prevents browning.  Garnish the platter with fennel fronds and serve with crostini alongside (optional).

Cooks Note: * This dish is easy to double or triple for a larger crowd.  You will have enough vinaigrette to at least double it so just add more of the rest of the ingredients (i.e. another head of lettuce, more nuts, Parmesan, apples, fennel, and prosciutto)

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Apple-Fennel Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Prep Time: 10 mins
:
Serves: 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 head Frisee, rinsed
  • 6-8 slices of prosciutto (di Parma recommended - thinly sliced)
  • 1/4 red apple (honeycrisp or gala)
  • 1/4 granny smith apple
  • 1/2 fennel bulb
  • 1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • Parmesan cheese - shaved
  • 1/2 large lemon
  • Vinaigrette
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons shallot, chopped (about 1 large bulb)
  • 2 heaping teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons apple cider
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 6-8 slices of crostini (optional) *I made mine with rosemary ciabatta bread in this picture

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees
  2. Combine dry ingredients in to a mixing bowl
  3. Whisk milk and eggs until frothy
  4. Slowly fold wet ingredients with dry ingredients in mixing bowl
  5. Fill baking tray and place in oven for 20 mins at 180 degrees
  6. Serve with hot cocoa milk drink

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