fall salad with apples and cranberries

Today’s post is sponsored by Riveridge Produce. You can find Riveridge-brand Michigan apples in all Roundy’s supermarkets, including Copps, Rainbow, Pick ‘N Save and Metro Market throughout the Chicago area, Wisconsin and Minnesota.  Just in time for Thanksgiving, all Roundy’s stores will be selling a plastic pie clamshell that includes apple varieties that are ideal for baking and a recipe for Grandma Judy’s apple pie. And if your pie technique needs work, check out this video on pie-making from Chef Tommy Fitzgerald.

Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are upon us — at the same time, no less. This week, everyone will be shopping for, cooking and eating traditional holiday foods. Interestingly, apples play a prominent role in both Thanksgiving and Hanukkah celebrations. Who doesn’t crave apple pie on Thanksgiving and applesauce on their Hanukkah latkes? This seems perfectly appropriate because apples feel so quintessentially American. Think about Johnny Appleseed planting apple orchards everywhere he went. Sure, you can easily find apples imported from such far-flung places as South America and New Zealand, but for me, I prefer local apples from the nearby Michigan orchards.

Riveridge Produce brings apples from family-owned Michigan orchards to grocery stores all over the Midwest. They offer so many different varieties of apples, from heirlooms to the latest hybrids. Last week, I talked about the Jonagold and demonstrated how it paired beautifully with butternut squash — another seasonal favorite — to make a sweet yet complex soup. Today, I want to talk about the Gala apple, which is another of Riverridge’s popular varietals.

About to be America’s most popular apple, Gala has surged past the Red and Golden Delicious.  That’s because of its crisp, juicy and very sweet taste and a thin skin that makes for good eating. Gala was bred and first planted in New Zealand in the 1930s, but was only introduced to the U.S. in 1974. Gala apples, sometimes called Royal Gala after a popular strain, are excellent for snacking and salads.  Its creamy yellow background is striped in attractive shades of scarlet-red and orange.  It is somewhat resistant to bruising and stores well. Gala is also a favorite of professional bakers.

I think Galas are the perfect salad apple because of their thin skin and their resistance to browning. A crisp, refreshing salad is a nice antidote to all the rich food associated with Thanksgiving and Hanukkah and a welcome addition to the holiday table. I adapted this recipe for Apple Orchard Salad to accommodate Zuzu’s nut allergy by replacing the walnuts with another seasonal favorite, dried cranberries.

If your holiday menu is too full to include this beautiful fall salad, consider it as a perfect vehicle for your Thanksgiving leftovers: just top this salad with some cubed turkey and you have a satisfying yet light meal that will help you atone for any overindulgence. Although Galas’ resist browning well, if you plan to slice the apples in advance of serving the salad, toss them with some lemon juice to prevent oxidation.

Gala Apple Orchard Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Serves 6-8. To turn this salad into an entree salad, add 4 cups cubed turkey or chicken. Delicious!

  • Dressing:
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. each cinnamon and ground clove
  • 2 TB cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Salad:
  • 8 cups mixed spring greens
  • 4 Gala apples, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup freshly grated hard cheese like Swiss or Gruyere
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  1. To make dressing, mix apple cider, vinegar, sugar, mustard and spice in a bowl.
  2. Whisk together to incorporate mustard and dissolve sugar.
  3. While whisking, slowly pour in olive oil to create an emulsion. Set aside.
  4. To make salad, toss spring greens, dried cranberries, and grated cheese in a large salad bowl.
  5. Pour dressing on the greens and toss gently to coat.
  6. Add apple slices just prior to serving.

Full disclosure time: this is a sponsored post and I am being compensated for this content. As always, all opinions expressed herein are my own.

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Emily Paster

Emily Paster is a freelance writer and mother of two living in River Forest. She writes about food and parenting on her website, West of the Loop. Emily's print work appears frequently in Chicago Parent...