Monday, September 8, 2014

Apple Romaine Salad with Lavender Honey Vinaigrette

The end of summer, doesn't have to mean the end of salads.  Crisp tart apples and sweet pears and later winter squash and even cranberries all make excellent additions to fall salads. 

The idea for another salad occurred to me when I spread lavender honey on a warm biscuit one morning and thought: what else can I do with this fantastic honey?  I had found lavender honey at the Hillsdale Farmers Market, just a few weeks ago. If you can't make it to Oregon,  try making your own lavender honey by adding a bit of crushed culinary lavender to wildflower honey.

Lavender season is over anyway, for the most part, but you can always use dried lavender for culinary purposes. Remember to always confirm that you've got culinary lavender because some lavender varieties are too strong for kitchen uses.

We usually have a lot of lavender in the pantry.  I wasn't always so fond of this herb but  this little cookbook teased my interest. It was written by my wonderful friend Kathy Gehrt who passed away last spring.  Every time I inhale the fragrance I think of Kathy, whose infectious love of lavender converted many who had no idea how versatile this herb could be.

Kathy Gehrt at Sky Nursery in 2011

I wasn't sure what else to put in the salad until I spotted Pink Pearl apples at the market on Saturday.  Yes, it's apple season.  I love when the weather turns cool, days are cloudy, and rain is on the schedule more often.

Someone else likes fall too.

Apples and pears make perfect transitional fruit.  My Cooking Assistant can't get enough apples.  He sometimes finds school kid's discards.  Mothers: do more shopping at farmers markets and more fruit will get eaten.

My Cooking Assistant is not afraid to let me know when he's been short-changed in the local food department.

Pink Pearl apples are pink inside.  The name fits. They're a perfect blend of tart and sweet.  

I don't think they are sold in stores, so check your farmers market.  Pink Pearl apples make salads more fun.

My favorite vinegar comes from Rockridge Orchards.  These are the old style of bottles.  The newer bottles have clamp-on lids.  It's all good from Rockridge Orchards.

You don't need much oil, just enough to make the dressing cling to the lettuce leaves.

If you can't find Pink Pearls, use your favorite variety of apples. That is the beauty of salads--you can always make it your way. For an easy whole meal add chunks of marinated tofu, or garbanzo beans.

Apples and Greens with Lavender-Honey Vinaigrette
(Serves 4 to 6)

1 to 1 1/2 cups diced apples
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 cups torn lettuce
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 cup diced carrots, cauliflower or celery
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lavender honey (or use plain honey with 1/2 teaspoon crushed lavender buds)
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 avocado, seed removed and diced
1/4 cup pistaschos, cashews or chopped pecans

1. Combine apples and lemon juice.  Set aside.  In a medium mixing bowl combine lettuce, onions, and cauliflower.  Gently mix.

2. Whisk together cider vinegar, lavender honey, garlic, and mustard in a small bowl.  Add sea salt and pepper to taste.  Mix avocado into the dressing.  Just before serving mix apples into salad and gently toss the dressing and avocados into the mix.

3. Top with pistaschos before serving.


Rivki Locker said...

I've never actually used lavender in a recipe. I planted some last year and didn't know what to do with it. This recipe looks lovely.

Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

Thanks Rivk, a little goes a long way with lavender. It pairs well with most fruits and you can make your own lavender sugar by adding 1 tablespoon crushed lavender buds to to 2 cups sugar and letting it sit for a few weeks. Then make lavender sugar cookies or scones. Thanks for visiting.