This post has been sponsored by Autumn Glory apples, but as always all opinions are my own.
This June will mark the 7th anniversary of Foolproof Living. Can you imagine? I have been creating, testing, and sharing recipes for seven years.
If you were to ask me what is the number one thing I learned about creating recipes, my answer would be that in order for your recipes to taste amazing, you need to balance four things: Salt, acid, fat, and sugar. This apple salad recipe is the epitome of this concept.
Think about it for a second. Almost every dish starts with (sweet) onions, sautéed in (fatty) oil, and then later enhanced with some sort of an acidic ingredient like tomatoes, vinegar, citrus, or cultured dairy like yogurt or sour cream. Then finally, seasoned with salt and pepper.
Now, obviously the proportions and ingredients change from dish to dish, but if you are familiar with how to categorize your ingredients, you are pretty much bound for a great end product.
And the best part is that if your recipe tastes bland, you can always add a little bit of what is missing to make it taste great.
That is why I would say that the second most important thing I learned is that the only way to create something delicious is to taste it as you go.
If you follow these two steps and work on getting to know your ingredients, then you can start creating your own recipes in a snap that actually tastes good.
Today’s recipe, Apple Salad, is a great example of how to built flavors on top of each other to end up with an out-of-this-world delicious yet stupid easy apple salad in less than 15 minutes.
So let’s break it down.
Apple Salad Ingredients
Apples & Raisins (Sweet)
You might remember from last year, they invited me to their orchards in Yakima, WA and we watched the sunrise. Ahhh that sunrise.. I wrote all about it in this How To Make Apple Roses recipe post with some gorgeous photos.
If you have never tried Autumn Glory apples, they taste like apples flavored with cinnamon with undertones of caramel. I know it might be hard to imagine, but believe me they are that good.
Sliced thinly (with the skin on), you get the distinct taste of the sweet cinnamon-y flavors of Autumn Glory apples with every bite.
I promise you guys if you want to make apple salad with fresh apples Autumn Glory apples are the way to go.
Second sweet component of the recipe is raisins. It is no secret that apples and raisins are a match made in heaven. But together in this recipe, they helped me round up the earthy flavors of the baby spinach and walnuts.
In the end, I also added a handful of pomegranate arils, but that is mostly because the photos needed a little bit of color and I wanted to add in another layer of fresh fruity flavor. If they are not in season, you’d be totally fine with just using raisins.
Apple Salad Dressing & Cheddar (Acid & Fat)
Now, I know that most people are accustomed to making apple salad with mayo. While I know how delicious that version tastes, I wanted to make it somewhat healthier so I swapped some of the mayo with yogurt.
The fat content that came from 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise mixed in with ½ cup of Greek yogurt eliminated the need to add in any oil into the recipe. And a generous squeeze of lemon seasoned with salt and pepper gave me the easiest yet the most delicious apple salad dressing.
Whatever you do, do yourself a favor and ditch the store-bought salad dressings because as you can see below you could easily create a delicious yogurt-based vinaigrette recipe in no time.
Initially, I had no intention of adding any type of cheese into this apple salad recipe. However, even with the addition of yogurt (fat + acid), mayonnaise (fat), lemon juice (acid), and a generous amount of salt and pepper, once the sliced apples were mixed in with the rest of the ingredients (spinach, celery, red onion, apples, raisins, and walnuts), it was just not complete.
It needed more fat to round everything up. So I did what I always do and referred to my secret weapon for creating recipes, The Flavor Bible (Affiliate link). If you are not familiar with this book, it is a guide to help you find pairings for each ingredient organized from every angle: seasons, flavors, ethnic traditions, and ingredient affinities.
Come to find out, the combination of apples with greens (salad, spinach, etc.), nuts (pecans, walnuts, etc.) and cheese (blue, cheddar, feta, etc.) deliver good results. So I followed in the footsteps of the Flavor Bible and add in some shredded cheddar. Aaaand just like that. This otherwise bland apple raisin salad turned into something extraordinary.
How To Make Apple Salad
Like I mentioned earlier, even with the chopping of ingredients you can create this easy apple salad with yogurt dressing in less than 15 minutes. The process of making it has three parts:
First, you make the apple dressing: Simply whisk yogurt, mayo, lemon juice, and salt and pepper in a bowl and set it aside.
Second, combine baby spinach, chopped celery, thinly sliced red onions raisins, and walnuts in a large bowl. Top it off with thinly sliced apples and shredded cheddar.
Finally, drizzle the salad with the yogurt-mayo dressing and give it a gentle toss. That is it. It is that simple.
Watch How To Make
Ditch the Waldorf Salad and give this healthy and simple apple salad recipe a try. I promise with just a few minutes of prep you will end up with a super flavorful salad that you’ll want to put on the weekly rotation all throughout the year.
Other Apple Salad Recipes With Fresh Apples That You Might Like
Here are a few more apple salad ideas to inspire you:
- Brussel Sprout Salad
- Mayo-Free Apple Chicken Salad – Kitchen Confidante
- Waldorf Chicken Salad
- Roasted Beet and Apple Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette – Vanilla and Bean
- Broccoli Apple Salad with Yogurt Dressing – Give Recipe
Other Healthy Salads Recipes You Might Also Like:
- Brussel Sprout and Kale Salad
- Chicken Salad Recipe
- Creamy Cucumber Salad
- Brussel Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes
- My Go-to Yogurt Salad Dressing
Apple Salad Recipe
For The Dressing:
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
For The Salad:
- 4 cups baby spinach rinsed and spin dried
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- ¼ cup red onion thinly sliced
- ¼ cup raisins
- ½ cup walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped
- 1 apple cored and thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup cheddar shredded
To make the dressing:
- Place yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Give it a whisk. Set aside.
To make the salad:
- Place spinach, celery, red onion, raisins, walnuts, and apple slices in a large salad bowl.
- Drizzle it with the dressing and give it a gentle toss.
- When ready to serve, top it off with shredded cheddar.