Enjoy the flavors of fall with this bright and fresh Apple Walnut Salad. Loaded with textures and flavors, this green salad is the perfect side dish for any weeknight meal, Sunday night dinner or even your Thanksgiving feast.

Why This Recipe Works

The star of the show is the toasted cumin vinaigrette. It’s one of our favorite vinaigrettes for its wonderful balance between fresh and toasty flavors. Not only is the vinaigrette great for this fall green salad, but we also recommend drizzling it over roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes or tossing with cooked grains to make a simple pilaf. 

In addition to the must-make vinaigrette, the combination of salad ingredients just hit all the notes. Toasty, crunchy walnuts, flavorful greens (we can’t get enough of baby kale), tart green apple, creamy goat cheese, and just a handful of basil for a light herby note.

green apple, baby kale, olive oil, honey, shallot, walnuts, Dijon, goat cheese and basil measured out and set on a counter

Ingredient Notes

Cumin Seeds

Cumin seeds are the main flavor of our vinaigrette. We use them also in vinaigrettes, soups and even sauces. If you don’t have cumin seeds in hand, we recommend you buy some! 

White Balsamic Vinegar 

White balsamic vinegar is our favorite vinegar to have on hand for homemade vinaigrettes and balsamic vinaigrettes. It’s tangy yet mildly sweet, which is perfect for creating a vinaigrette that’s tangy without being too harsh. 


Walnuts are one of the stars of the show! Toast raw walnut halves then give them a rough chop. If you don’t like or don’t have them on hand, you can use pecans instead.


This salad is best with hearty baby greens like baby kale. Baby kale is one of our favorite greens because it’s incredibly flavorful, holds up well to a dressing, but it also tender enough that you don’t have to fight it (like you sometimes do with mature kale). Use all baby kale or look for a “power mix” made up of baby kale, baby chard, and baby spinach. 

Goat Cheese

Use fresh goat cheese known as chevre for this salad. Keep it cold until just before serving to make it easier to crumble. If you don’t like goat cheese, you can use feta instead. 


A handful of basil leaves add just the right amount of herbiness to this salad. You can also use parsley, cilantro or chives. 

apple and cumin seeds, walnuts, and shallots with greens in a large white bowl

Test Kitchen Tips

  • Keep an eye on the cumin seeds as they toast in the oil on the stove top. They can go from perfectly toasted to burnt quickly! Immediately pour the hot oil over the shallots in the glass measuring cup. The hot oil will slightly sizzle the shallots, which will cook out their harsh flavor. 
  • For a bit of spice, consider adding a dash of red pepper flakes to the oil with the cumin seeds.
  • If you like herby salad, add some parsley leaves in addition to the basil. 

Variations on this Recipe

  • For even more fall and winter vibes, add some dried cranberries to the mix.
  • Any crisp apples with work for this salad. If you like honeycrisp use those! Got braeburn on hand? Those will work as well.
  • Feel free to mix up the type of lettuce you use. Red leaf lettuce or any leafy salad greens will work.
  • Swap the goat cheese or crumbled blue cheese.

Other Side Dishes to Try


Can I make the vinaigrette ahead of time?

Absolutely, you can make the vinaigrette up to 4 days ahead of time. Store it in a glass container with a tight fitting lid in the refrigerator. 

Can I toast the nuts ahead of time?

You can toast the nuts as far in advance as you like. Either store them in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days or store them in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. For longer storage, freeze them.

I don’t like goat cheese, what else can I use?

You can swap in crumbled feta cheese or try large shreds of Parmesan or Pecorino. 

Can I make this vegan?

Absolutely, just skip the cheese and use pure maple syrup in place of the honey in the vinaigrette. 

Apple Walnut Salad with Toasted Cumin Vinaigrette

5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 12 minutes
Yield 6 servings
Category Side Dish
Cuisine American


Enjoy the flavors of fall with this bright and fresh Apple Walnut Salad. Loaded with textures and flavors, this green salad is the perfect side dish for any weeknight meal or Sunday night dinner.


Toasted Cumin Vinaigrette

  • ¼ cup minced shallot
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Kosher salt


  • cup raw walnuts
  • 8 cups hearty baby greens, such as baby kale, baby chard, and spinach**
  • 1 green apple, thinly sliced then cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese (chevre), crumbled
  • 8 large basil leaves, thinly sliced


Toasted Cumin Vinaigrette

  • Add shallots to a glass measuring cup or jar.
  • In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add cumin seeds and cook, swirling skillet, until cumin seeds are toasted and fragrant. About 1 minute. Immediately transfer oil and cumin seeds to jar with shallots.
  • In now-empty skillet, add walnuts and cook, over medium heat, until toasted and fragrant, 2–5 minutes.
  • Add vinegar, Dijon, honey and ½ teaspoon kosher salt to shallot-oil mixture; whisk to combine.


  • In a larger serving bowl, combine greens, apple, goat cheese, basil and cooled toasted walnuts. Drizzle with vinaigrette and gently toss; season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve immediately.


We like to use hearty baby greens mix which is sometimes sold as Power Mix or Powerhouse blend.


Serving: 1/6 recipeCalories: 342kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 9.5gFat: 30gSaturated Fat: 7.5gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 297mgFiber: 3gSugar: 6.5g
Like this? Leave a comment below!I love hearing from you and I want to hear how it went with this recipe! Leave a comment and rating below, then share on social media @zestfulkitchen and #zestfulkitchen!

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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