It's been a while since I've been in a yoga class, and I really miss it. I miss the routine relaxing feeling of going through a sun salutation in a room full of friendly strangers, where all other thoughts and worries seem to float away. I haven't really thought about it this way before, but I kind of have an alternative to this feeling in the kitchen. Cooking in general (and apparently writing about it) has a therapeutic effect on me especially if what I am cooking is something that I know and love, and I don't have to worry about following a recipe. Making salads compounds this feeling. I have always enjoyed chopping fresh, colorful veggies with no real exactness and piling them high into a bowl. There is something very zen about it. I happen to love eating salads too, and crave them almost as much as chocolate chip cookies, and am a total sucker for a good salad bar or deli with a variety of vegetable, pasta, fruit, and potato salads to delight the palate. My daydreams have been preoccupied with this particular combination for several months, ever since some good friends introduced us to it. This salad really is perfect any time of year. The dressing is light and bright and accompanies a summer barbeque quite nicely-which is how we first had it-while the apples and nuts make it somewhat harvesty (my blog-I'll make up words if I want to) and wintery. Now that I think about it, some dried cranberries might make an aesthetically pleasing and flavorful addition.
Cashew Apple Salad
adapted from the Chicago Sun-Times and kristenmclane.com
1 head romaine lettuce, red romaine, or red leaf lettuce
2 Granny Smith apples, sliced thin
1 c. lightly salted cashew halves
1 c. shredded swiss or mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. canola oil
1/3 c. white wine vinegar
1/4 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. red onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1. Combine dressing ingredients in a well sealing container and shake vigorously to mix.
2. In a large bowl, combine lettuce, apples, and cashews, and toss with desired amount of dressing. (I use less than half of what this makes)
3. Serve immediately topping each serving with cheese. Alternatively, add the cheese in step 2 with the other ingredients. We add it to each serving becuase of the swiss vs. mozz battle in my house.
Another option for the dressing is to combine the ingredients in a food processor or blender to create an emulsion by drizzling in the oil, yielding a creamier dressing.