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Apple-Cherry Tomato-Thai Basil Salad

This salad weaves together the melding of seasons, highlighting the very end of late summer with tomatoes and fresh aromatic herbs, with the very beginning of autumn and deeper, warming foods with the apple, ground cherries and a bright but grounding dressing.  I really love working fruit into salads to add an unexpected hit of additional vitamins and antioxidants to vegetables, along with a touch of energizing complex carbohydrates. 

Apples signify health and wellness and are at their peak harvest season in the autumn. They’re excellent sources of vitamin C, fiber, flavonoids (a type of antioxidant), quercetin—another type of antioxidant which keeps inflammation in check and benefits muscle recovery.  All these nutrients combine to benefit stable blood sugar, a healthy weight, good digestion and a strong immune system.

If you’re looking to bulk up this salad and make it heartier for colder temperatures, add in a nice autumnal lettuce like red or green leaf or even a bitter green like radicchio and pop on some toasted, crushed peanut on as well for a little plant-protein boost.  When tomato season officially winds down, swap cherry tomatoes for chunks of roasted butternut or kabocha squash.  Adapt to the seasons, mother nature won’t steer you wrong!

Ingredients

2 apples, thinly sliced in half moons

1 cup sungold/cherry tomatoes, halved

¼ cup ground cherries, peeled and halved

1 cup thai / purple basil & buds

2 scallions/spring onions, thinly cut on a bias

½ shallot, thinly sliced lengthwise

Toasted sesame seed for garnish

Maldon salt for garnish if desired

Tsukudani Dressing

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

¾ teaspoon dijon mustard

¾ teaspoon honey

¾ teaspoon tsukudani (fermented shiitake-nori paste) or white or yellow miso *see note below

4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

Kosher salt to taste

Cracked black pepper to taste

Method

For the dressing, whisk together rice wine vinegar, dijon mustard, honey, and tsukudani or miso in a small bowl.  Slowly stream in sesame oil while whisking to emulsify the dressing.  Season with salt and pepper.  The secret (really for any dressing), is adding just enough salt to make the dressing pop in your mouth, alive with flavor). 

Toss all salad ingredients, apples through shallot together and dress lightly with 1-2 tablespoons of dressing. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and maldon or sea salt for garnish.  

*Note: Tsukudani is a fermented shiitake-nori paste, traditional in Japanese cuisine.  Like with countless other fermented, preserved foods and beverages (miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha etc), it’s excellent for boosting gut health and keeping our body’s microbiome in good working balance. You can find tsukudani here.  (or in Antoni’s refrigerator) 

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