Returning to work after Thanksgiving weekend is one of life’s less pleasant experiences. After a weekend of food, family, friends, and pajama-like clothes, the cold shower that is the workplace seems decidedly bleak.
I guess that’s what makes Thanksgiving such a special holiday. You put on the brakes, step out of the daily grind and remind yourself of the things, the people, that matter — that make you who you are. Sure, I would never forget that my brother can make me laugh until I cry and shoot water out my nose, but having him make me laugh until I cry (and yes, shoot water out my nose) is much more special, I assure you.
But not every day can be like that, all fuzzified with pumpkin pie and cornbread stuffing and apple-topped sweet potatoes. If every day were like that, holidays wouldn’t feel special. But we knew that already.
That doesn’t mean every other day has to be boring, though, even if it feels that way sometimes after a holiday weekend. Take this apple manchego salad, which showcases some of autumn’s best. Crisp apples and toasty walnuts are paired with zesty Manchego cheese in a wonderfully refreshing salad. I doubt this salad would make an appearance on my family’s Thanksgiving table. But that’s okay; sometimes you need things that make every day feel a little special too.
Apple Manchego Salad with Toasted Walnuts
Inspired by a recipe by Jose Andres
1 cup whole raw walnuts
7 medium garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped shallot
Salt and pepper
5 ounces Manchego cheese
3 large Granny Smith apples
2 tablespoons chopped chives
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spread the walnuts evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until toasted and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
In a small saucepan, heat the garlic and olive oil together, turning every so often, until the garlic is golden on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Set the garlic and oil mixture aside to cool.
Once the oil is cool, pour the oil and garlic into a blender and add the sherry vinegar and shallots. Season with salt and pepper and puree until smooth. (This can be done in advance; refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the salad.)
Cut the Manchego cheese into 1/4″-wide matchsticks. Place in a large bowl with the chopped chives.
Core the apples (do not peel them) and cut them into 1/4″-wide matchsticks. Add them to the bowl with the cheese and chives. Sprinkle the toasted walnuts over the salad. Pour the dressing over the top and toss until the salad is well-coated with dressing and the apples, cheese and walnuts are evenly distributed.
Yield: 6-8 servings