When we started talking about meatless Thanksgiving meals a few weeks ago, I didn’t think of a salad right off the bat. That’s probably because my family doesn’t let anything green touch the table on Thanksgiving, except the broccoli in the broccoli rice casserole, which is mixed with Cheese Whiz, so it doesn’t count.
However, I’d been willing to sacrifice one of our potato sides (just not the marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes) for this Nuevo Texas Waldorf Salad.
Forget the Waldorf you know, the mayo-bound one that’s plopped on cafeteria plates. This version is as crisp as the fall air, a cornucopia of apple slices, toasted pecans, crumbled blue cheese and a mountain of mixed greens tossed with a homemade rosemary vinaigrette and topped with a few fried wonton strips for extra crunch.
It’s the sort of magical salad you actually get a craving for. One that a vegetarian could make a meal off of, but you could serve as a first course or side to the rest of your gang, as well. To balance the Cheese Whiz and marshmallows.
Nuevo Texas Waldorf Salad with Rosemary Vinaigrette
Adapted from Rebecca Rather’s “The Pastry Queen”
Makes 4 servings
Fried Wonton Strips:
- 4 sheets packaged wonton or egg roll wrappers*
- Canola or vegetable oil, for frying
- 1/3 cup fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 medium-size red onion
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup white balsamic or white wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup to 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 3 sweet-tart apples, like Braeburn, Medina, Granny Smith or Honeycrisp
- 4 cups mixed greens
- 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
- For the Wonton Strips: Slice the wonton wrappers into 3/4-inch-wide strips. Pour enough oil into a small pan to reach a depth of 1/2 inch, and set over medium-high heat. Use tongs to add the strips, several at a time, frying a few seconds on each side, until golden brown. Remove strips from the pan, and set on paper towels to drain.
- For the Vinaigrette: Blend the rosemary, garlic, red onion, mustard, honey, vinegar, salt and pepper for about 15 seconds in a food processor. Pour 1/2 cup olive oil through the feed tube in a slow stream, and blend until the mixture emulsifies. Taste and add more oil, if desired.
- To Make the Salad: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the nuts on a baking sheet, and toast for 5 to 7 minutes (until you can smell them). Cool the nuts, and coarsely chop.
- Core and slice the apples. (To keep them from browning, dip them in a lemon-lime soda.) Place them in a large bowl. Add the mixed greens, pecans, and blue cheese; toss gently.
- Pour half the salad dressing over the greens, and toss until all the ingredients are coated.
- Transfer the salad to individual serving plates, top with the fried wonton strips, and serve immediately.
*Gluten-Free Tip: Use GF egg roll wrappers, or simply leave them out.