This Apple Cabbage Salad with Walnuts and Gorgonzola is a delicious way to add a fresh, crisp element to your holiday menu.
Anyone else feeling a little over-indulged from the holiday season yet? After powering our way through a very delicious Thanksgiving (that included a few more pieces of pie than I care to mention), I feel the need to include something fresh and wholesome on my Christmas menu.
This Apple Cabbage Salad with Walnuts and Gorgonzola is one of my favorite salads of all time.
The cabbage is crisp, the apples are sweet and tart, and the gorgonzola cheese and walnuts keep you coming back for more. It’s all topped off with a light apple cider based vinaigrette which adds a special festive touch for the holidays.
Table of contents
I had grand illusions of weekends spent decorating and baking, wrapping gifts, and nights filled with popcorn and Christmas movies. Yes, all these things happen. But they happen along with life.
Work, school, finals week for the boys, Boy #4’s Winter Formal, more work, you get the drift. It’s a bit frenzied, even frantic at times, but all the same, it’s Christmas.
As I write this, Adam is at his Winter Formal. Just hours ago, I had a house full of beautiful girls and handsome boys all decked out in their prom attire posing for photos. I’m treasuring every one of these moments with our youngest.
Even at a tux fitting on an extremely busy day, I’m present, snapping photos with my phone when he’s not looking. I don’t want to miss a thing. This is his last year at home with us before he heads off to college. This will be a very special Christmas for our family.
Since I always serve turkey for Thanksgiving (my Dry Brine Turkey is spectacular!), I love serving Roasted Beef Tenderloin on Christmas Eve. This Apple Cabbage Salad is a great complement to both beef tenderloin and prime rib.
For the Apple Cabbage Salad
- Napa Cabbage – While regular green cabbage is perfect for a classic coleslaw, I love Napa cabbage in this salad. It has a fancier quality to it which is just perfect for a holiday menu. Napa cabbage leaves are softer and sweeter but still plenty crisp without the “rubbery” quality of green cabbage.
- Spring mix – The variety of colors in bagged spring mix make this a very pretty salad.
- Apples – I like to use both a red and green apple for color.
- Carrots – You can julienne your own carrots or to save time, pick up a bag of shredded carrots in the produce section.
- Gorgonzola cheese – Gorgonzola has a milder taste and creamier texture than blue cheese. It’s a fabulous choice for salads.
- Walnuts– Gorgonzola and walnuts are seriously a match made in heaven and SO good together in this salad.
- Fresh chives – Such a nice finish to a special holiday salad.
For the Apple Cider Vinaigrette
- Apple Cider – Not apple juice.
- Unseasoned Rice Vinegar – Rice vinegar is a mild, slightly sweet vinegar that works really well to brighten up salad dressings. Seasoned rice vinegar is exactly that – it’s rice vinegar that has been seasoned with additional sugar and salt. This recipe calls for the unseasoned variety since we are adding other ingredients to create flavor. That being said, I’ve made this dressing with both varieties with a good result so don’t fret if you’ve picked up the seasoned variety by mistake.
- Dijon mustard – A little Dijon adds body and great flavor.
- Honey – A little sweetness to balance the vinegar.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Lemon juice – A little lemon juice goes a long way to brighten up this salad dressing.
How to Make the Apple Cabbage Salad
The sweet and tangy dressing is what takes this salad to a special place. I recommend making this dressing in advance and storing it in an airtight container in your refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
The Apple Cider Vinaigrette
- Reduce the apple cider – Bring the apple cider to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Then, reduce the heat to medium. Continue to simmer at a low boil for about ten minutes or until the mixture has reduced to about half.
- Add ingredients and cool – Remove the reduced cider from the heat. Whisk in the remaining dressing ingredients, except the olive oil. Let the dressing cool for a couple of minutes and then transfer it to a container refrigerate to cool completely. Or, place the dressing in the freezer for 10 or 15 minutes to cool it more quickly.
- Finish with olive oil – Once the mixture has cooled completely, whisk in the olive oil. Use the dressing right away, or refrigerate it for a day or two in an airtight container. Mason jars work great!
Assemble the Salad
- Slice the cabbage – Slice up your head of Napa cabbage and discard the innermost part which is yellowish in color. I always use a salad spinner to be sure the cabbage is clean and free of debris.
- Toss – Combine the cabbage with a bagged spring salad mix and shredded carrots in a large salad bowl.
As you slice the apples, add them to the Apple Cider Vinaigrette. The vinegar and lemon juice will help prevent the sliced apples from turning brown and as an added bonus, each apple with soak up a little of the yummy dressing.
- Toss with dressing– Add the apples and as much dressing as you’d like and give the salad a good toss.
- Garnish – Top it off with the fresh chives, Gorgonzola cheese and walnuts. You can chop the walnuts or just use your hands to break them into large pieces and add them to the salad.
Apple Cabbage Salad with Walnuts and Gorgonzola is a beautiful choice for a Christmas buffet. Color, texture, and amazing flavor.
It is my sincerest hope that you have a wonderful holiday filled with friends, family, and of course, delicious food!
Apple Cabbage Salad with Walnuts and Gorgonzola
Apple Cider Vinaigrette:
- 2 cups apple cider
- ½ cup rice vinegar, unseasoned
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 apples, red, green, or both
- 1 small head Napa cabbage
- 7 ounces mixed greens (spring mix)
- 1 cup julienned baby carrots
- 3 tablespoons fresh chives, cut into 1-inch pieces
- ⅓ cup roughly chopped walnuts
- ⅓ cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, or to taste
For the Apple Cider Vinaigrette
- Place 2 cups apple cider in a heavy saucepan and place over medium high heat. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium. Simmer at a low boil for about 10 minutes or till mixtures reduces by half. Remove pan from heat and add rice wine vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, honey, salt and fresh ground pepper.
- Allow to cool for a few minutes then transfer to a bowl or other container and place in the refrigerator to cool completely. You can place it in the freezer to cool more quickly but check frequently and pull out as soon as it is chilled.
For the Salad
- Finely slice the Napa cabbage and give it a rinse, draining well. Place the sliced cabbage in a large salad bowl. Transfer the contents of the bagged salad mix to your cutting board and run your knife through it a couple times. Add chopped mixed greens to the cabbage and toss to combine. Add the julienned carrots.
- When the dressing has completely cooled, whisk in the olive oil. Core and thinly slice the apples, adding them to the dressing as you work, to prevent them from discoloring. Use a spoon to transfer the apples from the dressing to the salad and then toss the salad with just enough dressing to lightly coat the ingredients.
- Top the tossed salad with the chopped fresh chives, walnuts, and crumbled Gorgonzola cheese.
- Serve immediately.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.
This post was originally published on December 21, 2012. It has been updated with new text and images but the recipe and sweet memories remain the same.