Maple Thyme Roasted Apple Waldorf Salad with Confit Garlic Yogurt Dressing

When I first started out doing my Summer of Salads series back in June, I knew I wanted to do a version of a Waldorf salad: the classic salad created in New York City that usually consists of apple, celery and walnuts with a mayonnaise dressing. There have been many additions over the years: blue cheese, chicken, grapes, variants on the dressing. So once grapes came into season, I knew the time for me to do my own version was now.

Firstly, I wanted to augment the flavour of the apple component by pan roasting it with maple and fresh thyme to boost both the sweetness and the earthiness. The deep savoury flavour of thyme, in my mind, made the need for celery superfluous, so I omitted it in my salad.

Secondly, I wanted to include the chicken because I like to make a salad a meal and the heartiness of chicken always sends a salad from merely a starter or side into a full meal.

Thirdly, the grape idea with chicken has become an almost classic combination in itself. There was a beautiful variety of green grapes at the market last week, so I’ve been keeping some aside with the intent for part of it to make it into a salad.

Finally, I wanted a lighter option for the dressing rather than the traditional mayonnaise, so I opted to use yogurt. Dressing a salad in a one-dimensional item like yogurt, although delicious on its own, seemed inadequate. I wanted another element of flavour with it. I was reading about a garlic festival in Toronto earlier today (see article here) and one of the chef’s gave a recipe for confit garlic. Basically, a slow simmering of garlic cloves in oil to soften them.

I went with that idea with a slight modification to also infuse the oil (for a later use). I buy my oil from a local producer of cold pressed canola, flax and hemp oils. While talking to the owner awhile back, I was talking about infusions in oil. I asked about how warm he lets the oil get while pressing. Each seed is different so there’s three different answers for his oil seeds. For canola, he never goes over 40C/105F. And for infusions, he never went over 100C/220F. So, of course, while making today’s confit garlic, I heated the oil with a thermometer to monitor temperature:

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I’ll get into more detail below with the recipe. In the meantime, if you want to try the oil from Mighty Trio Organics, it’s awesome. And the family behind it are even better. Check out their oils and great information on how to order online too here.

Maple Thyme Roasted Apple Waldorf Salad with Confit Garlic Yogurt Dressing

For the Confit Garlic Yogurt Dressing:

4 cloves garlic

Cold pressed canola oil to cover the garlic in a small pot (about 1 cup/250 mL)

1/3 cup plain yogurt

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

   In a small pot, add the garlic cloves and oil. Bring to the barest simmer over low heat. When the temperature reaches above 85C/190F, ensure that the oil doesn’t heat anymore by turning the heat to low and remove the pot partly from the heat, if necessary. Allow to gently simmer for 15 minutes. Take off the heat and allow the garlic to steep in the oil. Remove the confit garlic and set aside. Reserve the garlic infused oil for another use.

   To make the dressing, add the confit garlic to a small bowl. Mash them with a fork until relatively smooth. Add the yogurt, salt and pepper and stir together to combine. Allow to sit for at least 20-30 minutes while preparing the Maple Thyme Roasted Apples.

For the Maple Thyme Roasted Apples:

1 tsp cold pressed canola oil

1 apple, cored, cut into rough 2cm/1″ chunks

2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

2 Tbsp maple syrup

   In a medium skillet over medium high heat, add the oil. When the oil is smouldering, add the apples and sauté for 3-4 minutes until slightly softened but still holding shape. Add the thyme and maple syrup. Stir to coat the apples and sauté for a further 2-3 minutes to glaze the apples. Take off the heat, transfer to a bowl to cool and set aside.

For the salad:

6 cups green leaf lettuce, roughly torn

2/3 cup/125 mL fresh green grapes

3 Tbsp hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup/60 mL cooked chicken (any leftover chicken is fine), shredded

Reserved Maple Thyme Roasted Apples

Reserved Confit Garlic Yogurt Dressing

   In a medium bowl, combine the lettuce with the Confit Garlic Yogurt Dressing. Divide the dressed lettuce over three plates. Scatter grapes and shredded chicken around the greens on all three plates. Add the Maple Thyme Roasted Apple chunks over the top with a few pinches of chopped hazelnuts. Serve immediately. Serves 3.

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