Growing up in Armagh, known as the Orchard County of Ireland, the Autumnal season has always meant an abundance of apples, and the joy of baking and cooking with them. One of my favorite memories is from coming home from elementary school in the late afternoon, and of the aroma that hit me as soon as I walked through the door as a big pot of apple sauce is bubbling on the stove.  Those were the days when the milk man delivered fresh milk to our homes, and the top of the glass bottle had a thick ring of cream on top that was the reward for the first to open the bottle! I remember pouring that cream over a big cup of apple sauce, and it was for me,  a cherished memory that welcomed the upcoming fall season.  My mother knew it was my favorite, and so she waited to can the sauce only after I had arrived home from school and consumed my welcome apple treat.

Living in Atlanta, I look forward to our fall road trips to North Georgia, where we fill up our car with local Ellijay apples. These days though, I am looking at good nutrition and healthy salads, and not just the pies, tarts and crumbles we all love and crave. When I taste the first locally picked apple of the season, the texture is crisp and crunchy that the flavors literally pop in my mouth.  I am determined to eat an apple a day, not just to keep the doctor away, but because it’s a true gift of the fall season.

To top it all off, our raised garden beds are overflowing with Thyme, which grows so easily and  needs little care, and is fun to use with salads such as this.  Thyme tastes earthy, and it has a subtle woodsy and slightly minty taste, that compliments the flavors of apples. The salad is also colorful and when paired with toasted walnuts and tangy blue cheese it’s perfect for entertaining or family fall gatherings.  Here is the recipe for you to enjoy, and I hope it’s as big of a hit with your family as it is for us!

Here’s the recipe!

  • (for the salad)
  • 6 cups of Greens (Baby Spinach and Arugula mixed works very well)
  • 1 Granny Smith green apple (hard cored removed and thinly sliced)
  • 1 Pink Lady red apple (hard core removed and thinly sliced)
  • ¾ cups of walnuts (chopped and toasted with 1 Tbsp of butter, coarse salt)
  • 2 oz (1/4 cup) crumbled blue cheese (Cashel Blue or Stilton)
  • (for the vinaigrette)
  • 3 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Cold Pressed Apple Juice
  • 2 Tbsp of honey
  • 1 tsp of dry mustard powder
  • 2 Tbsp shallot (finely chopped)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp of fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ tsp of sea salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper

How to make it:

  1. Toast Walnuts gently in a medium high skillet shaking gently until they are golden brown and aromatic. Stir in the butter oil to coat and season with the coarse salt.  Set aside to cool.
  2. To prepare the vinaigrette add the apple cider vinegar, apple juice, honey, mustard, and shallot to a blender to combine and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Add the thyme and season with salt and pepper. The ingredients can also be placed in a jar, sealed, and shaken together.
  3. To assemble the salad, place the greens, chopped apples, blue cheese and nuts in a large bowl and toss in just about half of the vinaigrette before serving. Reserve some of the vinaigrette on the side, should your guests prefer to pour a little extra on their salad.

Judith. Shamrock and Peach