Apple Spinach Salad & Crispy Almonds

Cider food pairings spinach

A perfect salad for the day when you want the meal to taste like you had hours to spend in the kitchen but you had only 20 minutes. Olaiya had a special trick to make this simple salad outstanding – it’s takes 4 to 5 minutes and it makes everyone ask, “What did you do to these almonds?” Spinach from the Farmer’s Market or boxed from the grocery store, tossed with grilled chicken or pulled from a rotisserie chicken; it all comes together with dressing and almonds that are candied like a brittle.

Yield: 6-8 Servings

1/4 cup minced shallot or red onion

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons champagne vinegar

2 tablespoons black sesame seeds, toasted

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Sugar, to taste

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup sliced almonds (about 3 ounces)

10 ounces baby spinach leaves, washed and dried

2 medium-size red-skinned apples, such as Pink Lady, quartered, cored, thinly sliced

2 cups shredded roasted chicken

Combine onion, cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, sesame seeds and paprika in small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season vinaigrette to taste with salt, pepper and sugar.

Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add almonds. Stir until almonds begin to color, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar and a pinch of salt over. Stir until sugar melts and begins to turn golden, about 2 minutes longer.

Transfer almonds to plate to cool. Combine spinach, apples and chicken in large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Mix in almonds and serve.