Winter Green Salad with Apples and Cider Vinaigrette

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by Joan MacIsaac

 For the Vinaigrette (makes 1 ½ cups):

3 cups cider

2 T. shallots, diced

1 T. fresh chopped thyme

¼ cup sherry vinegar

1 cup canola oil

2 T. cider

Salt and pepper to taste

For the Salad (serves 6):

½ lb. winter salad greens such as spinach, baby beet greens, arugula, frissee,baby lettuces....

2 small apples, cored and slice thin

½ cup toasted walnuts or pecans

1 cup of Great Hill blue cheese, crumbled

 In a medium saucepan bring the 3 cups of cider to a boil on high. Continue to boil the cider on high. Watch as the cider first comes to a boil. You may need to adjust the heat if the frothy liquid on top foams over the sides of the pan. Reduce the liquid to a syrup consistency. It may take from 10 - 15 minutes depending on the size of your pan. Set the reduced cider aside and let cool.

 Transfer the cider to a bowl and add the shallots, thyme and sherry vinegar. Gradually whisk in the canola oil and season with the salt and pepper. Finish the vinaigrette by adding the cider at the end to brighten the flavor. Taste again with some of the salad greens. It should be bright enough to stand up to the bitterest greens in your salad mix. Adjust your seasonings accordingly.

 When dressing a salad always start with just a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette and a sprinkle of salt and pepper over the greens. Toss the greens gently, almost in a folding manner. Add the apple slices making sure you separate them so they toss evenly in with the greens. Taste your greens and continue to add more vinaigrette in increments. (Note: when you add a vinaigrette to a salad the greens begin to wilt. So always toss the salad just before serving and do not over-toss.)

Transfer the salad to a platter or individual plates. Top the salad with the blue cheese and the walnuts. Drizzle a tiny bit more vinaigrette over the salad and serve.