Recipe Source: Malouf, Greg and Lucy. Artichoke to Za'atar. University of California Press, Berkeley, 2008 p. 153
I love apples. They are easily my favorite fruit. I don't much care for the crappy Red Delicious variety that you can get year-round and often get as the "healthy side" at some sandwich joints, though. No, I like the kind of apples you get only in the fall, preferably picked oneself on a warm sunny day with a cold, crisp evening. I like my apples raw. Seriously. When my favorite variety of apple comes in later in the season (that would be Empire, in case you're curious), I go to the Brookline farmer's market and find the one guy selling Empires. Then I buy everything he's got, and I usually manage to eat it all in one week (two if I'm not at home often.)
My husband, on the other hand, prefers them cooked. I thought this salad would please him, and I was right. The original recipe called for pears, but I don't care for pears and had a lot of apples on hand. I made a few other changes of course. I was out of orange-flower water, so I substituted rosewater. I don't have any sherry on hand, but I've successfully used Chinese shao xing wine as a substitute in the past, so I used it here. I wasn't able to find halloumi at the supermarket, so I substituted paneer (and reduced the amount, because we just didn't need that much fat.) I also used a lot less oil thanks to a procedural change (using a grill pan instead of frying the cheese.) Finally, I just didn't have time to fiddle with all the different types of greens called for in the original recipe. Instead, I used a pre-packaged salad mix, which gave me time to see Derek Jeter break Lou Gehrig's record. The substitution was worth it.
This recipe is my entry into the September chapter of No Croutons Required, a monthly vegetarian soup and salad challenge founded by Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes and hosted this month by Lisa from Lisa's Kitchen. The September theme is Mediterranean. Some of you may be thinking (or shouting), "Wait, this has paneer in it! Paneer isn't from the Mediterranean! Stupid Americans and their lousy geographical knowledge!" Yes, I know, paneer is an Indian ingredient, and the last time I checked, India did not border the Mediterranean. As I mentioned before, the original recipe called for halloumi, which is a Cypriot ingredient, and Cyprus is firmly in the Mediterranean. At least it was the last time I checked, and the sudden relocation of a large (and sometimes hotly contested) island would be bound to make headlines even here in Boston. I was kind of forced into the change, and I'm pretty confident that the rest of the ingredients fit the bill nicely.
Apple, Honeyed Walnut and Paneer Salad (serves 4; approx. $4.32/serving)
3 apples (I used mostly Roxbury Russets because that's what I had)
2 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 tablespoon rosewater
3 teaspoons shao xing wine (or sherry)
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup walnuts
1 block paneer, cut into cubes
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 package herbal salad mix
2/3 cup black olives
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- Small saucepan
- Saute pan
- Grill pan
- Toast the walnuts by whatever means you see fit - in the oven if you have it on, or in the saute pan if not.
- Cut the apples into bite sized chunks.
- Combine the cardamom, honey, rosewater and shao xing wine in the small saucepan and heat over low heat.
- Melt the butter in the saute pan.
- Add the apple chunks and sear briefly on each side.
- Add the walnuts and the honey mixture. Mix well, coating the walnuts with the sauce.
- Heat the grill pan over medium-high heat.
- Grill the paneer on all sides, so that all sides are showing some of the grill marks.
- Combine the greens, onions and olives in a serving bowl.
- Add the paneer and toss well.
- Add the olive oil and lemon juice. Toss to combine.
- Pour the pan mixture (apples, walnuts etc.) over the rest of the salad. Serve.