Chef's Hat: Dive into a crisp salad to cool off on a hot summer day

Combining apples and lettuce with other ingredients provides summer salads with a refreshing crunch.

When it’s 90 degrees outside and the humidity is over 50%, heating up the kitchen or firing up the grill to make a hot meal just doesn’t cut it. Instead of digging into a heavy meat and potato meal, a light and refreshing salad is the perfect solution for these muggy summer nights.

And forget those boring lettuce and tomato salads that are served with a heavy dose of dressing. Various varieties of apples are available year-round, and apples are the perfect addition to add crunch, texture and a bit of sweetness to a dull, everyday salad.

Apples pair well with spinach, fresh romaine, various cheeses, nuts, celery, cucumbers, bacon and grilled chicken. Instead of a heavy dressing, dress up an apple salad with a vinaigrette - either a store bought bottle or whip one up quickly with ingredients that are no doubt in the kitchen pantry.

Making an apple salad doesn’t require a recipe. Just pick your favorite salad greens, add apples, chunks of cheese, thinly sliced red onions, some celery or cucumbers and top with a vinaigrette. When deciding on an apple variety, generally stick with a sweet and crisp variety - Honeycrisp, Sweet Tango or Pink Lady work well.

Several recipes call for feta cheese. Feta is sold in small blocks and has what many chefs call a unique flavor. But it is also a flavor that many people don’t particularly care for. So while experimenting with recipes, I swapped the feta for mozzarella and the result was a mouth-watering creation.


A salad might not be as appetizing as freshly baked cookies or a thick milkshake, but it will provide your family with a flavorful and nutritious meal while beating the heat. Happy Eating!

Apple Spinach Salad


  • 5 ounces baby spinach (or other salad greens)
  • 1 large apple, cored, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ¼ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ small cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • Grilled chicken, if desired
  • Apple cider vinaigrette or store bought vinaigrette

Apple Cider Vinaigrette:

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

To make the vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl or large measuring cup. Taste. If it isn't sweet enough, add a small amount of additional honey. Place into a container with a tight-fitting lid. It will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.
Place all salad ingredients, except chicken, in a medium sized bowl and toss lightly. Place salad on to individual plates, top with chicken and drizzle vinaigrette over the top.

Apple Pecan Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

Adapted from



  • 6 to 8 cups mixed salad greens
  • 2 medium sized apples, Pink Lady, Fuji or Honeycrisp, cored and chopped
  • ½ cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup thinly sliced celery
  • ½ cup pecan halves or chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese, cut into chunks
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries


  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper

Add the pecans, sugar and cinnamon to a small-medium pan or skillet. Stir over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, just until the sugar melts and nuts are coated. Transfer to a plate covered with a paper towel.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir together all of the dressing ingredients. Place in a container with a lid and keep chilled until ready to serve.

Place the salad greens, apples and celery in a large serving bowl. Toss until mixed. Add the cheese, nuts, onion and cranberries. Toss lightly.

Place large amounts of salad onto individual serving plates. Drizzle the dressing over the top.

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