Shenandoah's Apple Cashew Salad

Granny Smith Apples and Cashew Salad
(ok, I added  Pink Lady Apples too!)

Also known as Granny Apple Salad or Cashew Salad, this beautiful salad is absolutely scrumptious. I don't know if it originated here in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley Virginia where we go to pick apples every fall or not, but I do know that almost everyone who tastes it loves it.  It is perfect for  a spring brunch, or a bridal shower, or any get together.

I first tasted it at work when a caterer brought it for lunch.  She serves it with poppy seed dressing on the side, but a sweet vidalia onion dressing or a raspberry vinaigrette, would be wonderful too.  I serve mine along side grilled chicken , but you could even make this more of a main dish salad by slicing the grilled chicken into bite sized pieces and tossing it into the salad. This main dish version also makes for a yummy wrap sandwich the next day as left overs. 

Make the Poppy Seed dressing first as you'll want to chill it for at least 3 hours prior to serving it.  

Shenandoah Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

1/2  Cup Sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
1/3 Cup Cider Vinegar
1 cup Salad Oil
Optional: 1 Tablespoon chopped onion

Directions for dressing:
Mix the sugar, cider vinegar, mustard, onion, and salt together.  Add slowly the oil, and poppy seeds. Mix dressing 3 hours ahead in a small pitcher and refrigerate. Option To Make a Creamy Version: Pour the sugar-Vinegar mixture into a blender. Turn blender on low and slowly pour the oil in a small stream into the running blender. This will turn it into a creamy dressing. 

1 head red leaf romaine lettuce chopped
1/2 bag baby spinach leaves
4 small or 2 large apples (I used 1 granny smith and 1 pink lady )chopped and soaked in lemon juice.
1/2 lb. baby Swiss cheese shreds
1 (9-10 oz.) can cashew halves

In large serving bowl, mix greens together.  Add in chopped apples, cheese shreds and cashews. Mix lightly.  Serve with poppy seed dressing above. You can either serve it on the side or pre-mix it just prior to serving.
Optional: Mix in grilled chicken strips that have cooled slightly (let's not melt the Swiss cheese and wilt the lettuce, y'all!)  to make it a main dish salad. I'd say plan on one boneless skinless chicken breast per person if you need a guideline for this.  

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