Crisp, juicy red apples are the star in this refreshing Mixed Green Salad with Apples, Walnuts and Stilton Cheese. They provide color, sweetness and crunch that pairs perfectly with the earthy toasted walnuts and hearty mixed greens. What really sets this salad apart is the delightful, tangy Walnut Vinaigrette dressing. It’s quick and easy to prepare, with just 3 ingredients, too!
Mixed Greens Salad Recipe
This vibrant and colorful Mixed Greens Salad has been a favorite of mine for years. It’s like magic, the way the varying flavors, textures and colors of the ingredients combine together in just the right way. The result is a fresh, fruity, crunchy tossed salad that makes a perfect starter or side dish for any fall or winter dinner.
The British have known for years that apples and cheese are a wonderful combination. In this delicious mixed green salad, they’re tossed together with fresh baby greens, toasted walnuts and a tangy walnut-flavored vinaigrette.
Apple Walnut Salad Ingredients
Here’s more details on exactly what’s in this refreshing salad, how to prep the ingredients, and ideas for substitutions.
- Red apples. Apples are the star in this dish. Don’t peel them – the red skins provide a wonderful pop of color. Make sure to use fresh, sweet, juicy apples. My favorite varieties for this recipe are Gala and Honeycrisp. Eatingwell.com has an excellent guide for what apples to use in salads, for baking or making applesauce.
- Stilton cheese. Apples pair extremely well with creamy, salty Stilton cheese. A British blue cheese, Stilton comes in two varieties – blue or white. Either will work in this recipe. If you can’t find Stilton, substitute Gorgonzola or other forms of blue cheese. You can also use feta cheese.
- Chopped walnuts, toasted. You can use any variety of walnut. You can also substitute other nuts, if desired – pecans also work well.
- Mixed baby greens (spinach, arugula, lettuce). In creating and testing this salad recipe, I discovered it’s important for the greens to be hearty. They need stand up to the bold flavors of the apples and Stilton cheese. If you use softer, lighter greens only (like a spring mix) they will be overwhelmed by the other ingredients.
- Walnut oil. Using walnut oil amps up the earthy, nutty flavor in this salad dressing. If you can’t find walnut oil or don’t want to spend the money (it can be pricey!), substitute extra virgin olive oil and add a few more toasted walnuts to the salad.
- Raspberry balsamic vinegar. Many grocery and specialty stores now carry balsamic vinegar that has been infused with raspberries. I prefer the dark balsamic version in this recipe, but white balsamic also works. If you can’t find raspberry balsamic vinegar, use regular raspberry vinegar and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey. Or just use dark balsamic vinegar.
- Fresh lemon juice. Fresh squeezed lemon juice adds just the right amount of tartness to balance the sweetness in the apples and balsamic vinegar.
Make sure to use fresh, sweet, crisp apples in this recipe. As mentioned above, my favorite varieties for this dish are Gala and Honeycrisp. Eatingwell.com has an excellent guide for what apples to use in salads, for baking, or making applesauce.
Yes, you can use different lettuce or other greens. As mentioned above, just make sure to use a variety or varieties that pair well with the heartier ingredients in this Apple Walnut Salad – like spinach, arugula, chicory, frisee, or escarole. (Baby versions are okay.) You can mix in a bit of a lighter leafy green if you want – like romaine or bibb lettuce.
How To Prepare an Apple Walnut Salad with Stilton Cheese
Time needed: 35 minutes.
The recipe card (further down in this post) provides a summary of how to make this delectable Mixed Green Salad. Here are more details:
- Make the Walnut Vinaigrette.
It’s so easy to prepare, with only 3 ingredients! In a medium glass jar with fitted lid (or a small mixing bowl), whisk together raspberry balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and walnut oil until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set it aside for at least 30 minutes, to allow time for the flavors to blend together.
- Prepare the mixed greens.
If you didn’t purchase prewashed greens, rinse them under running water and dry them on paper towel. I layer the greens (in a single layer) on sheets of paper towel and gently press down to absorb the water. Gently roll up the lettuce on the paper towel, put in a large baggie (it will stick out the end but that’s okay), unsealed, in the refrigerator.
- Toast the walnuts.
Coarsely chop shelled walnuts. Spread evenly (in one layer) on a rimmed cookie sheet and toast in a 350 degree oven for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
- Prepare the apples.
Slice the apples in half (top to bottom) and remove the core. I like to use a melon baller. Place the flat side of the half apple down on a cutting board. Cut into 1/2-inch thick slices. Cut slices into 1/2 to 3/4 inch pieces. Or, cut slices thinner and use for the “individual plated variation” in the recipe (see directions in recipe card below).
- Toss the salad.
In a large serving bowl, toss together mixed greens, chopped apple, walnuts and cheese. Just before serving, toss with just enough dressing to coat the lettuce (you may have some dressing left over). I like to start with half the dressing at first, season with salt and pepper and toss well. Taste, then add more dressing, salt and pepper as needed.
I think the Walnut Vinaigrette included here is the best dressing to serve with this salad. It’s fresh, nutty flavor is the perfect complement to the apples, walnuts and Stilton cheese.
The Vinaigrette can be made up to 3 days ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator. The walnuts can be toasted, cooled completely and stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days as well (no need to refrigerate). Mixed greens can be prepped earlier in the day. Prep the apples just before serving, as they can turn brown once sliced/chopped.
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Other delicious side salads to try:
- Chopped Salad with Apples, Pecans and Feta
- Apple and Mixed Greens with Apple-Truffle Vinaigrette
- Vegetable Couscous
- Pear and Goat Cheese Salad
- Broccoli Salad
- Baby Spinach Salad with Lemon Dijon Dressing
- Elegant Wild Rice Salad with Parmesan Vinaigrette
- Greek Orzo Salad with Lemon-Basil Tahini Dressing
- Roasted Butternut Squash and Mushroom Spinach Salad
Crisp, juicy red apples are the star in this refreshing salad. They provide color, sweetness and crunch that pairs perfectly with the earthy toasted walnuts and hearty mixed greens. What really sets this salad apart is the delightful, tangy Walnut Vinaigrette dressing. It’s quick and easy to prepare, with just 3 ingredients, too!
- 1/4 cup raspberry balsamic vinegar – See Note
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup walnut oil – see Note
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Mixed Green Salad
- 10 ounces mixed baby greens (spinach, arugula, lettuce)
- 2 large Gala or other red apples, unpeeled, cored and chopped into 1/2 to 3/4-inch pieces or sliced
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups (6 to 8 ounces) Stilton cheese, crumbled – see Note
- 1 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
- In a medium glass jar with fitted lid (an empty Dijon mustard jar works well), whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice and oil until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Cover and set aside for at least 30 minutes, to allow the flavors to blend.
Mixed Green Salad
- In a large bowl, toss together mixed greens, chopped apple, walnuts and cheese.
- Just before serving, toss with just enough dressing to coat the lettuce (you may have some dressing left over).
- Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
Note on balsamic vinegar: If you can’t find raspberry balsamic vinegar, use regular raspberry vinegar and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey.
Note on walnut oil: If you can’t find walnut oil, or don’t want to spend the money, substitute extra virgin olive oil and add a few more walnuts.
Note on Stilton cheese: There are 2 types of Stilton cheese: blue and white. Either will work in this recipe. If you can’t find Stilton, you can substitute Gorgonzola or other forms of blue cheese.
Individual plated variation: If you want to have a more formal, individually plated salad, then instead of chopping the apples, core and slice them. Toss the greens with part of the dressing and divide among six individual salad plates. Arrange the apple slices in a circular or other decorative pattern over the spinach. Sprinkle the walnuts and cheese crumbles over the top. Drizzle with remaining dressing.
Make ahead: Vinaigrette can be made up to 3 days ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator. Walnuts can be toasted, cooled completely and stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days as well (no need to refrigerate). Mixed greens can be prepped earlier in the day.
Keywords: salad, apples, make ahead