Harvest Apple and Spinach Salad

In an effort to have more dinner parties I invited a group of my friends over Monday night for dinner.  We have these dinners about once a month, the eight or nine of us rotating who hosts, and they are some of my favorite nights at school.  I have some of the greatest friends out here and they make my living in the middle of cornfields more than tolerable.  Monday night’s festivities included:

1.  Perusing stalker-net, which is part of our school’s intranet where there are directory photos of all the students.  Stories are IMMEDIATELY better when you can go and pull up the photo of whoever you’re talking about.

2.  A dramatic reading of FB messages between me and this guy at school.  I am still laughing over this.

3.  A big ol’ bottle of wine.

It was a great night with good friends and good food.  I served the meal in three courses because I firmly believe that courses make any meal better.  It creates a rhythm to the meal and ensures that each dish gets its proper attention.  I also think it’s fancy.

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While there were three courses, you’re only getting the first one right now.  I started off the meal with a Harvest Apple and Spinach Salad from Annie’s Eats.  I’ll admit right away that I didn’t make this with spinach.  I’m not a big fan of it by itself in salads so I used mixed greens instead.  I think it still worked pretty well with all the other ingredients.

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This salad was the first time I made sugared nuts and now I want to do it all the time.  Granted, this means I am taking a moderately healthy food and turning into something that would make Paula Deen proud.

I might be okay with that.

Harvest Apple and Spinach Salad

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Ingredients:

For the dressing:

¼ cup minced sweet onion
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp. white wine or champagne vinegar
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
Pinch of paprika
2 tbsp. sugar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

For the almonds:
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
¾ cup sliced or slivered almonds
1 tbsp. sugar

For the salad:
10 oz. baby spinach leaves, washed and dried OR mixed greens
2 medium apples, cored and thinly sliced
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese

Directions:

Combine all the dressing ingredients up to the olive oil in a jar and mix together.  Slowly add the olive oil, whisking until emulsified.  Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the almonds, melt the butter in a sauté pan and then add the almonds.  Let the almonds cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted.  Pour in the sugar and mix.  Remove from heat and let come to room temperature.

To assemble the salad, plate the spinach or mixed greens.  Arrange the apples nicely on top and sprinkle on the feta cheese and buttered almonds.  Finish with a healthy drizzle of dressing.

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