Apple season is delightful in New England. There’s nothing quite like those beautiful apples hanging in the trees and scattering the ground. You walk through the orchard and it smells fresh, a pure scent of fall. I had never experienced apple orchards in California, clearly they’re there, I just never went to any. So this apple season in New England still evokes the child-like wonder in me.

For years we’ve been going to Honey Pot Hill Orchard in Stow, Ma. We’ve had professional photos taken before we had babies and now since having our boys we’ve gone on many an apple picking excursion. The bumpy hay ride takes you through the orchard and next to a river and there is nothing quite like seeing those red maples reflected in the river–all watercolor blurred perfection.  And if you’re there on one of those perfect fall days, the ones where it is chilly in the shade and oh so wonderful in the sun, a steaming cup of fresh cider and a donut quite literally gives you a quick glimpse of heaven.

So armed with basketfuls of fresh picked apples the kitchen shenangians began. Now how many things can I put apples in? Clearly apple pie is a no brainer. Homemade applesauce, check. Baked apples, yep. But when you’re feeling a bit sugared out, here’s a perfect alternative –the Harvest Salad.

Now I wouldn’t be doing my masters degree in nutrition any good without telling you all the reasons why you should devour your apples. Here’s just a glimpse:

One medium apple (182g or 3″ in diameter) with skin on gives you roughly 95 calories, 0.5g of protein (1% of your DV) and 4.5 g (17% of your DV) of fiber. It is filled with vitamins and minerals such as Vit C (8.4 mg or 14% of your DV), Vit K, Vit B6, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium just to highlight a few. See more details here. And Friends, that is just the apples. This yummy salad is packed to the gills with goodness. Here’s a sneaky trick to add in more protein if you’re tired of nuts…cinnamon crunch chickpeas. They add just the right amount of sweetness to this dish.

INGREDIENTS FOR SALAD

  • 1 medium apple, cored & finely sliced, skin on
  • 1/4 C crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 C fresh pomegranate seeds
  • bibbed lettuce, thoroughly washed and dried
  • 1/2 C fresh organic microgreens
  • 1/2 C cinnamon sugar chickpeas (we used the brand Biena, cinnamon crunch flavor)
  • 1/2 C fresh blueberries
  • 1 heirloom tomato
  • Maple balsamic w/ dijon vinaigrette (recipe below)

INGREDIENTS FOR MAPLE BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE

  • 1/2 olive oil
  • 1/4 C balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard (we use Stonewall Kitchen Maine Maple Champagne Mustard)
  • 2 tsp finely grated white onion (this ends up being mainly the juice and fine pulp that’s squeezed out while grating)
  • 3 Tbsp real maple syrup

I know, I know…grated onion. The answer is YES. Do it. I got this recipe from a chef at a teeny tiny bed and breakfast in Vermont. I loved the salad dressing so much that I convinced the waiter to have him come to the table to describe it to me. He of course had no measurements so this is my creation using the ingredients he listed. When I questioned him about the grated onion juice, he said “don’t question it. Just do it.” So there you have it. Sneakiest ingredient of all time.

I’m obsessed with Stonewall Kitchen. It is a brand straight out of Maine and so good. If you don’t have it in your grocery store, mail order or go to their website. This mustard is SO good. For the dressing, mix all the ingredients together in jar and shake until well combined. This is one I “wing” for the most part too so my recommendation would be to add the maple syrup last, taste it and see if you like the taste and add the syrup until YOU think it is perfect. Everyone has a different sweet level.

These gorgeous pictures were taken by the talented Ruthie of Ruth Eileen Photography.

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