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Festive Apple Almond Spinach Salad

An element of surprise with maximum wow factor. That's uppermost in my mind when preparing salads that stand out. (As all good salads should.) A dressing so good you can eat it with a spoon is essential - lemon juice 'n olive oil should be reserved only for simple Israeli chopped salad - and creative salad toppings that scream 'eat me' add all-important contrasting color and texture. Continue the apples 'n honey theme for the duration of the chag and win over sukka diners with this sublime Apple 'n Spinach Salad with honeyed nuts, vibrant pomegranate jewels and dreamy poppy seed dressing. Substitute canned mandarins for apples and Chinese pecans for the sugared almonds if you want to cut corners. You won't want to's pretty perfect just the way it is.

Spinach Salad

SALAD Baby spinach leaves OR baby leaves 1 large green, red or pink apple, quartered and thinly sliced 1/2 cup pomegranate jewels 1/2 cup dried cranberries TOPPING (SEE ALTERNATIVES IN NOTES) 1/2 cup slivered almonds 1 teaspoons olive oil 1 tablespoon honey Large pinch salt (Maldon is my first choice) DRESSING 1/2 cup olive oil 3 tablespoons honey 1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar* 1 teaspoon crushed garlic 1/2 teaspoon salt (Maldon is best naturally) 1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper 2 teaspoons poppy seeds (optional but great) 1: Mix almonds with honey, oil and salt to coat nuts then place on baking tray and bake - stirring occasionally to brown on all sides - at 150 C for 15 to 20 minutes till lightly golden and shiny. 2: Combine all dressing ingredients - apart from poppy seeds - and process briefly then stir in seeds if using. You can also shake dressing in a jar till creamy if preferred. 3: Combine spinach/baby leaves and apple slices and drizzle over 1/4 cup of dressing to prevent apples browning then top with dried cranberries, pomegranate seeds and nuts and toss with remaining dressing when serving. COOK'S NOTES: My favorite seed & nut topping can replace caramelized almonds. Combine sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, slivered almonds and uncooked '5 minute instant noodles' with a few spoons of sugar and a pinch of salt and bake till sugar has melted and coated mixture. See image. You can use any store-bought caramelized nut too. Topping can be prepared a day in advance as can dressing. White wine or red wine vinegar can replace apple cider vinegar and silan can replace honey. You can't go wrong really.

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