Our Colorado weather is the weirdest weather around. We have a saying that “if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it will change”. And believe me, this is so true, especially at this time of the year. We had cold weather in August, which is supposed to be the dog days of Summer. And we are having warm days now in October, but with cooler evenings and crisp mornings. Monday it is supposed to snow. Who knows what’s going on. It’s hard to stay on top of things and it can be challenging when it comes to cooking. Pizza and pot pies on some days, Pizza with Pesto, Sausages and Vegetables , Chicken Pot Pie , and salad on other days. All I can say is that it is good to be flexible. Creativity helps a lot too.
Yesterday was one of those salad days. I made a delicious apple, bell pepper and chicken salad. I had gone to lunch with some friends and bought some pumpkin spice muffins, that I served along side my salad. Because they were pumpkin spice, it made it seem a bit more like fall than summer, even if only in my mind. I completed the meal with a cool crisp viognier.
I used the apple vinaigrette as both the marinade for the chicken as well as the dressing for the apples, bell peppers and onions.
I assembled the salad ahead of time, and chilled it in the refrigerator until I was ready to eat it. I grilled the chicken and added that later, along with more of the apple, pepper mixture and some candied pecans on top.
These candied pecans were so easy to make. All I used was a little bit of honey and a dash of salt mixed with the pecans and cooked them up in the skillet for about 5-7 minutes. After they were cooked, I separated them and let them set until I was ready to use them on top of my salad. They came out so good. I could have easily eaten them all in one sitting, but I had to refrain, since I made them for the salad after all.
When I got home from work, all I had to do was to finish assembling the salad, and dinner was served.
Apple, Red Pepper Salad
3/4 cup toasted pecans or walnuts
4 TBSP honey
1/4 tsp salt + a pinch
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
1 TBSP garlic
1 tsp each fresh basil, thyme and oregano, chopped fine
2 heaping tsp black pepper
red, yellow and orange bell peppers, cut into matchsticks
2 apples, peeled and cored, and cut into matchsticks
1/2 cup of green beans, par cooked for about 5 minutes, cut into 1-1 1/2 inches
1/4 red onion, sliced very thin
lettuce, your choice or Belgian endive if you prefer something a little more bitter with the sweeter dressing and vegetable mixture
Mix the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, mustard, herbs, garlic, salt and pepper together. Toss the apples, green beans, bell peppers and onion into the dressing and chill until ready to serve.
If using the dressing as a marinade for either chicken or pork, make enough dressing to use as both the marinade for the meat and the dressing for the salad.
Mix the honey, salt and nuts together and just heat in a hot skillet for about 5-7 minutes. Immediately remove from the skillet and spread them out on parchment paper until they set. Once they have cooled, chop them and top your salad with them.
**** I did not have green beans in this salad only because I ran out. This is a very colorful, tasty salad that can easily be served on its own, or with chicken or pork. It would also probably be good with shrimp too.
*** * I do not like walnuts, but I love pecans. I always change pecans out for walnuts, but if you prefer walnuts, then feel free to use them instead. In my mind, they are pretty interchangeable.