My family recently changed the way we celebrated holidays. For years, we would cram millions of aunts, uncles, and cousins into the smallest kitchens and living rooms available. The counters and tables would be lined with casserole dishes and pie plates, filled with traditional foods. Wedding soup would have been on the stove and a ham in the oven. Sadly, the holidays of my youth are no more. Instead, we decided to follow the crowd and implement holiday brunches. The times may have changed, as well as some of the food selections, but I am thankful for this time together and that we do not need to turn on the air conditioner for every holiday now.
While we do still include our traditional foods, such as the wedding soup and ham, this recent change has allowed us a little more versatility in our holiday menu. One of the recent additions to our Easter brunch menu was my version of Charoset. Charoset is a paste made of nuts and fruits. It is a traditional part of the Passover Seder meal. I drew my inspiration from the Ashkenazi, or the Eastern European version of Charoset. It is a combination of walnuts and apples, mixed with wine, sugar, and cinnamon.
This recipe is a perfect combination of sweet and spicy. It paired perfectly with the Easter ham and would work well year round with prosciutto, but is fantastic on its own.
Apples play the star role in this recipe, as a great source Vitamin C and a natural source of fiber. Arugula microgreens, the other important player here, are more flavorful and 10-15 times more nutrient dense then regular arugula, which is already a rich source of phytochemicals. The phytochemicals naturally occurring in Arugula specifically, have been found to inhibit the carcinogenic effects of estrogen. Papa Vince EVOO and Moscato vinegar also play an important role, livening up the ingredients and adding multiple health benefits, such as providing heart-healthy antioxidants. Walnuts are another heart-healthy ingredients, as a great source of Omega 3 and helps lower cholesterol.
The dressing itself would work well on any fresh salad year round. I used a previous recipe that I had for the sweet and spicy walnuts, but you can use plain walnuts, as well. I sprinkled a little goat cheese on at the end, but it is not a necessary addition.
We love this recipe because it contains our favorite pasta with a healthy, seasonal vegetable that is perfect for Fall. We add in lots of raw garlic which certainly adds to the flavor of the dish but it also boosts your immune system which is so important during the change of seasons.