Spicy Apple-Walnut Salad with Fat-Free Balsamic-Raisin Dressing

by on March 28, 2012
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Spicy Apple-Walnut Salad with Fat-Free Balsamic-Raisin Dressing

There’s an unwritten rule of food blogging that says, “When you don’t have anything else to write about, blog your lunch.” Or at least that’s been my formerly unwritten rule, and it’s served me well because it’s led me to create some of my favorite lunches: Balsamic-Glazed Chickpeas and Mustard Greens, Hot Skillet Salad, and Sea-sational Chickpea Salad, among others. I have a tendency to get more creative with my lunch when I suspect I may be sharing it with the world.

But I didn’t get creative this time. What you see before you is the salad that I have three or four times a week, and the only special thing I did to it was to use some beautiful lettuces I got from the farmers’ market instead of my usual romaine:

Speckled lettuce from farmer's market

Pretty Speckled Lettuce from the High Heeled Hippie at MS Farmers' Market

But even if it’s not super creative, I’m so addicted to this salad that I just had to share.

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but sometime after reading Eat to Live and deciding to eat Mega-Huge salads almost every day, I grew to like my salads spicy. I started with strictly spicy salads like Taco Salad, and somewhere along the way I fell in love with the combination of sweet and spicy. There’s something about biting into a crisp, sweet chunk of apple while my mouth is pulsating with heat that makes eating a salad more exciting than it has any right to be. My current favorite salad seasoning is Vulcan’s Fire Salt, a fiery, habanero-infused salt from The Spice House that I think tastes great on salads.

Don’t worry–I’m not going to make you buy some special seasoning just to make this salad. I’m sure heat lovers will love it with diced jalapenos or even Creole seasoning. And if you’re not a fan of the burning mouth, you can go mild and just omit the peppers and I won’t think any less of you. Or just try the dressing, which is fat-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free, and preservative-free–so you can use it freely.

Spicy Apple-Walnut Salad with Fat-Free Balsamic-Raisin Dressing
Fat-Free Balsamic Raisin Dressing

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Somer March 28, 2012 at 9:46 am

I recently read Eat to Live too and needed this post today to motivate me to eat yet another Ginormous Salad. I love that your dressing doesn’t have oil because even though Dr. Fuhrman does not advocate the use of oil, his balsalmic dressing in his book has oil in it! :/ Your spicy sweet combo is just what I need to kick start my love for salad again. Thanks!

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2 Sarah @ Semi-Sweet March 28, 2012 at 9:50 am

This looks terrific – I can see why it’s a staple in your rotation! I try to eat a giant salad every day too . . . and I think I have all the ingredients for this here, now – thanks for spicing up my lunch today.

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3 Cynthia March 28, 2012 at 10:22 am

Hello Susan,
Thank you for the recipe for the Fat-free Balsamic-Raisin Vinaigrette.
I am excited to try it. No OIL! Yes!!!
I am always happy to try any recipe and dressings without oil added.
My family will be happy to try it too.

Cynthia

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4 Laina March 28, 2012 at 10:29 am

This looks delicious, Susan. Thanks!

Oregano – ground or leaf? Mexican?

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5 Susan Voisin March 28, 2012 at 10:30 am

I used regular dried oregano, not ground, but I’ll bet Mexican would be okay, too.

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6 Khadijah March 28, 2012 at 10:45 am

This dressing looks so good, and I have been craving giant salads lately (after eating comfort food all winter). Do you think regular balsamic vinegar would work?

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7 Susan Voisin March 28, 2012 at 10:48 am

Regular balsamic works fine – it just makes the dressing darker.

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8 shirley March 28, 2012 at 10:48 am

Is this really just a single serving? 7 cups of greens seems like a lot.

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9 Susan Voisin March 28, 2012 at 10:52 am

Yep! That’s the kind of enormous salad/meals we’re supposed to eat on Eat to Live.

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10 moonwatcher March 28, 2012 at 11:01 am

Hi Susan,

You know, we must be on the same wavelength–as I ‘ve been dreaming of the gourmet lettuces that will appear at our farmer’s market once May comes and it stops HAILING. Geez. Seriously, though, I almost left my romaine at the co-op for something more fluttery looking yesterday. And I’ve been trying to come up with a dressing similar to this, so I’m glad to have this template, though I’ll leave jalapenos out. And I LOVE apples in my salad–I add them a lot, when I’m feeling Waldorfy :) or even Asiany :) as they are great with cabbages too.

Thanks for another simple yet elegant salad idea :)

xo

moonwatcher

ps-the photo of the lettuce is great–this was just the kind I was dreaming of, maybe from looking at the seed catalog. And I love the grower’s name, High Heeled Hippie–that is inspired!! I’d buy lettuce from her too!

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11 Wendy March 28, 2012 at 11:02 am

I eat a huge salad every day too…though I’m very weird and have mine for breakfast. I’ve been in a rut making the same balsamic dressing for about six months now. I can’t wait to try this one tomorrow…I never thought of using raisins to add a bit of sweetness. Yum!

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12 Janae Wise March 28, 2012 at 11:07 am

Wendy: Me too! My husband and kids have gotten over it, but they still think I’m weird :).

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13 Wendy March 29, 2012 at 8:30 am

Yeah – my boys call it mom’s “stinky salad” (because of the dressing) and refused to sit near me while I eat it. Hubby just thinks I’m weird.

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14 Jody Cline March 28, 2012 at 11:05 am

This will definitely join the salad lunchtime lineup! When you use the salt – how much so you use? Is sodium content same as regular salt?
Thanks!

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15 Susan Voisin March 28, 2012 at 11:24 am

I just sprinkle it on to taste. It’s pretty hot, so it doesn’t take a lot. And the great thing is that it’s much lower in sodium than table salt–671.02 mg per teaspoon as opposed to 2325mg in salt.

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16 Janae Wise March 28, 2012 at 11:06 am

I, too, strive for a big salad a day. And when I want to lose a few pounds, I make it two or three!

I’m glad to know that I’m not a freak of nature, as my husband often supposes, since I like what he thinks are odd combos–sweet and spicy, apples in my salad, ect.

That romaine lettuce is beautiful, btw. Our farmer’s market hasn’t started up yet, and I don’t anticipate any greens for at least a month.

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17 Patt March 28, 2012 at 2:27 pm

This is basically the same as I do but I hadn’t found a dressing I liked as well as a commercial one. I make about 8c of cut fresh veggies such as green and red peppers, cukes, green onions, carrots, sugar snaps, celery and sprouts every other day in my food processor. I cut up four different heads of lettuce and bag it. So putting together a salad takes no time at all. I always have beans available too.
It is hard to “toss” it since I tend to fill my container to the top!
Another trick I do is to make extra steel cut oats in the morning with raisins, chia seeds and almond milk. Anything I don’t eat is saved and eaten cold later in the day or evening. I love it cold. Who would have thought!

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18 lea March 28, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Your salad post is exactly what I needed today! Since I have been pregnant, my old standby 3-4 days a week giant salad has become suddenly un-appealing. I know all the greens are especially good for me and for the baby, so I have been basically forcing it down, yuck. This is perfect inspiration to try something new and it looks absolutely delicious! Thanks Susan, Perfect Timing!

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19 The Spicy Vegan March 28, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Great dressing recipe! I am trying to cut down my oil consumption, this is exactly what I was hoping to find by going to your blog. I made the dressing with dark balsamic, dates instead of raisins and ghost pepper salt instead of miso/salt. It’s quite tasty and a great yield for getting me through the week.

Thanks for sharing!

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20 janet @ taste space March 28, 2012 at 8:16 pm

When I am searching for post topics, I blog about my breakfast, haha! I love all the salad recipes you share… killer dressings need to be spread around. I can’t wait to try this out since I adore balsamic. :)

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21 Ellen (Gluten Free Diva) March 29, 2012 at 7:45 am

I love creative salad dressing. So interesting and what a great combination of ingredients. I’m making this today for lunch! And gluten free to boot!!!!

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22 elizabeth March 29, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Vulcan Fire Salt sounds good! I’ve never tried Spice House spices, do you have other favorites from the Spice House?

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23 Susan Voisin March 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm

The other one I can’t live without is Maharajah curry powder, but it’s become pretty expensive. I also love their Sunny Spain salt-free seasoning (like lemon pepper).

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24 elizabeth March 29, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Thank you. I made the dressing with brown rice vinegar, instead of balsamic and I like it! I love tangy dressings. I don’t use regular balsamic much and would have used my favorite white balsamic from Trader Joe’s, but I’m out and the nearest Tj’s is two states away.

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25 Catherine March 29, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Hi Susan, Your site is great! Love this salad dressing. So many great ingredients. Do you ever use dates instead of raisins?

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26 Susan Voisin March 29, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Actually, yes, I often do use one large medjool date instead of raisins. But then I have to change the name. ;-)

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27 Vegetarians March 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm

This will be definitely a delicious recipe. What would be the difference if I use a ground oregano leaf or whole? Thanks!

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28 Susan Voisin March 29, 2012 at 10:19 pm

If you use ground, use half as much because it’s more concentrated.

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29 Cass March 30, 2012 at 10:15 pm

This looks great–I love fruit and nuts on salad, and I’ve been wanting to make a vinaigrette like this for a long while.

Speaking of “a long while”, I found the exact same vinegar bottle you’ve got in your photo in a cupboard in the house I bought in 2008. I hung onto it, despite not knowing what to use it for, until this past week when I put it and some mismatched glassware at the end of my driveway in a box marked “FREE” (I live in a quirky neighbourhood). The box and all its contents, including the vinegar bottle, were gone within half an hour. Darn it.

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30 Susan Voisin March 30, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Too bad! I paid good money for mine (though not a lot) at an antiques store. I really like it for dressing.

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31 Pui March 31, 2012 at 3:29 am

Can I use plain salt instead of the jalapeno as there is no Vulcan’s Fire Salt here (New Zealand)? Or do you have other suggestion? Thanks.

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32 Justine March 31, 2012 at 11:19 am

Thank you Susan! Please post more of your lunch and all sorts of salads!
I feel I am always lacking creativity to learn to love my salads. This is post is really giving me a kick in that direction :)

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33 Constance March 31, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Do you ever use Stevia in these recipes? I’m trying to reduce the calories I am putting in my green smoothies and dressings and the dried fruit addes calories and sugar. Do you think it would work in this? Thanks!

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34 Susan Voisin March 31, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Yes, I do use stevia, more often than raisins or dates. You just have to play around with the amount until it tastes right to you.

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35 Reia April 1, 2012 at 2:01 am

I love to make a huge salad for lunch and a lot of the ingredients I use are in this recipe. I also like a balance of sweet and salty/spicy but what interestes me the most is the dressing. I usually buy bottled balsamic dressing but this has inspired me to try making my own!

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36 urbanvegan April 2, 2012 at 3:14 pm

I can’t get enough salad–ever! I have a huge one at least once a day–sometimes twice. I cannot wait to try your dressing, since I am on a quest to find more tasty, low-fat or no-fat dressings.

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37 moonwatcher April 2, 2012 at 11:47 pm

Hi Susan,

Here’s what I came up with using your wonderful template. I didn’t have any golden raisins, but I did have 1/4 cup of dried pears from my tree left. So I soaked those in hot water for a couple of hours, then blended them and the soaking water with a small shallot, the white balsamic, about 1/2 tbs of herbs de provence, 1 tsp of lemon zest, 2 tsp of golden flax seeds, the tbs of lemon juice, and two tbs each of nutritional yeast and dijon mustard. Oh, it’s so yummy! Only problem is now I will have to wait for more pears to grow and ripen so I can dry them. :) I’ve got my eye on a bag of bosc pears at the co-op, though, in case I can’t wait.

I also made another one, more weird, with soaked dried cherries. This time I was impatient and didn’t wait as long for the cherries to soak. I think it’s best to let them sit longer. I used red wine vinegar, garam masala, about 2 tsp of almond butter, a little coconut aminos. I ended up adding a little date paste and a 1/2 tsp of golden flax. After a night in the frig it was pretty good.

I am a big fan of sweet and savory together, so thanks for inspiring me to use up my dried fruit in a new way!

xo

moonwatcher

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38 VeganCouchPotato April 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm

yes, I agree with your rule!~ it has helped me too…

the salad looks great!

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39 Jacqueline April 4, 2012 at 8:26 am

After some really beautiful sunny weather here is Scotland, we have now said hello to a few days of snow. I know, I know our weather is particularly mad just now. I have given up my salads and returned to soup, but my mouth is watering looking at your salad, so maybe it is time for salad and tempting the sunshine back :)

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40 Diane Robuck April 4, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Hi Susan,
I am still researching FF Vegan for recipes. The above recipes look good! I went through Jackson yesterday and the day before. We went to a funeral in Terry. I thought about you it would have been nice to meet. Maybe another time. Thank you for the help and support and the recipes!!

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41 Dan April 9, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Hi Susan,

I am looking forward to trying this dressing. I am having a hard time finding good healthy dressings in the store. Could you tell me how long i can store this dressing in the fridge? Thank you for all your efforts!

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42 Susan Voisin April 9, 2012 at 10:34 pm

This dressing should be fine to store for 2 or 3 weeks. Hope you enjoy it!

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43 Laina April 13, 2012 at 11:51 am

So yummy, Susan! Made this yesterday and it’s my favorite by far! I’m more of a sweet-version dressing kind of person and haven’t really liked the balsamic dressings I’ve tried.

But this one, Wow!!! It will be a favorite use-all-the-time dressing from now on. I did use apple juice in place of water. I used flame raisins because it’s what I had. And I used half of the amount of balsamic and used water for the other half. Perfect!!! :-)

Are golden raisins more sweet, less sweet or about the same?

Thanks so much,
Laina :-)

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44 Marilyn April 19, 2012 at 5:43 pm

I can’t wait to make the tofu-cashew mayonnaise, haven’t had any for MONTHS
Thank you.

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45 Terri August 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm

YUM! This salad dressing is my new favorite. The raisins give it richness and texture. I used regular balsamic and it was wonderful. Thank you!

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46 Rosha Miles August 22, 2012 at 8:26 am

Love your recipes ,this is my first day of going vegetarian ,I’m doing it for health reasons also saw Dr furhman on pbs . what type of sweetner would you use. I will get bored drinking water all the time. Look forward to using your recipes.

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47 Susan Voisin August 22, 2012 at 8:39 am

I use stevia, which is now available in most grocery stores, though the pure kind that I use isn’t as easy to find except in Who,e Foods and other natural food stores. Don’t forget that Dr. Furhman allows herbal teas, and the hibiscus kind is actually very good for you. Good luck!

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48 Gardenwife January 16, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Sounds tasty! Tossing and toasting those chopped walnuts over high heat in an unoiled skillet would take the flavor up even one more notch. :)

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49 Mary Lou May 28, 2013 at 1:36 pm

I was in need of a quick dressing recipe and this was great . Love your site.

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50 Terri Cole July 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm

I have a jar of this dressing in my frig right now! I eat a ginormous salad almost every day for lunch, and this is one of my go-to recipes for dressing.

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51 Sandi McMahill January 18, 2014 at 3:14 pm

AWESOME!!!!!!!!! The salad and the dressing but especially the dressing. THANKYOU so very much for your wonderful site.

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52 Amanda April 10, 2014 at 10:22 am

Hi, Susan – this combo looks terrific! I saw that you used dates in the salad dressing instead of the raisins – do you think I could use figs as well, soaked? How many would you suggest? Thanks so much for all you do! We love Loki! :)

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53 Susan Voisin April 10, 2014 at 11:18 am

Sure! I think it’s safe to use any dried fruit that you like, and figs would have a great flavor. I love that you love Loki! He’s a special kitty!

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54 Anne July 16, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Just made this dressing and poured it over chopped salad – tastes wonderful!

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55 gP September 1, 2014 at 6:28 pm

Can I maked this with regular (black raisins)? Are the basil and oregano dried or fresh?

Been searching in vain for a homemade palatable oil free salad dressing. thanks!

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