Ensalada de Cabrales: When Cheese, Fruit & Nuts Become Sublime

There are some things that just strike you as being astonishingly simple, yet brilliantly devised. For example, the interface of an iPod- the way you use it – is unbelievably clever in its design. One “wheel” and one button, and that’s it. Everyone – even me – can figure it out in about 8 seconds. It’s genius at its best.
Similarly, a salad my new man-crush Jose Andres made on his show Jose Made in Spain just struck me as at once achingly simple, and yet wonderfully sophisticated. Cheese, fruit and nuts, and that’s it.

Cabrales and Apple

Regular readers will know that we are big fans of the phenomenon that is cabrales cheese (non-regular readers should read this post before proceeding any further with this one, as it’s important to know the ingredient you’re dealing with) but we’ve yet to include it in any of our cooking. Here was an opportunity to incorporate perhaps the world’s wildest cheese into a dish so cunning that, to mix a metaphor, you could cut yourself on it.

Seriously, you might think I’m exaggerating here, but quite apart from that not being what we do here at We Are Never Full (we keep it real, believe), I am not exaggerating one bit. This was the best salad I’ve had in a very, very long time. And, while we wouldn’t normally insult your intelligence by pretending to tell you how to put a salad together, we’re asking you to bear with us here and read on. You’ll be glad you did.

We’ve decided to submit this recipe to Kalyn at Kalyn’s Cooking (a most excellent blog) for her Weekend Herb Blogging series. This time around it’s being hosted by Jugalbandi, so head over there before 3PM today to submit yours!

Apple, Cabrales, Chive and Hazelnut Salad

Ensalada de Cabrales (for 2 people)


1 large apple – gala, fuji, granny smith, golden delicious, but not McIntosh type

2oz strong cabrales or your favorite blue cheese

3 hazelnuts (shelled, roasted, but unsalted)

1tbsp good cider vinegar

3tbsp your best olive oil

1 tsp finely chopped chives

salt & black pepper


Peel and core apple, then using a mandolin (if you have one, otherwise your trusty chef’s knife will suffice) slice the apple to a uniform thickness of about 1/4 inch (1/2cm)

Arrange apples on serving dish however you like and crumble over the cheese. Feel free to use more, but you easily be over-generous with cabrales, so beware.

Combine oil, vinegar, salt & pepper (as a vinaigrette) and spoon liberally over apples and cheese.

Then, take your microplane grater or the fine side of your box grater and grate your hazelnuts. Sprinkle this “hazelnut salt” followed by the chives over your salad and serve immediately.

Apple, Cabrales, Chive and Hazelnut Salad


22 thoughts on “Ensalada de Cabrales: When Cheese, Fruit & Nuts Become Sublime

  1. I caught Jose’s show today and I like his “slice of life in Spain” approach…time to look closer at those brochures.

    Fruit and cheese has been done all around the Med for eons but I think it’s been taken for granted. Having said that, this Cabrales is to be savoured and I’ll be on the lookout for it.

  2. I’m fascinated by this cheese. I’m gonna have to look for it next time I’m cheese hunting. You may already know about it but incase you don’t, you should give Azeitao a go. It’s a soft Portuguese sheeps-milk cheese that is quite a stinker as well, but ohh so rewarding.

  3. The simplest of dishes can be the tastiest. This reminds me of a salad I used to have near work; cheese (brie), apples with walnuts, drizzled with honey on top. Oh, how I loved that salad. This one too sounds like perfection to me.

  4. So you went “nuts” with cabrales!!! Je, je, je. My man is half Asturian and he loves all typical food from there. You have presented this salad so beautifully that even I would have a bite!!! (Martians know I can’t stand cheese!)
    Do you have José Andrés recipes book edited in english? I bet so 😀

  5. Again, wonderful comments.
    Peter – you better look WAY closer at those brochures! Spain is absolutely amazing – if the country was a hot man, I’d make out with him for hours.

    Mark – go for it w/ cabrales! you’ve piqued my interest with that Portuguese cheese! We’re investigating now… thanks for the suggestion!

    Pixie- the salad you mentioned sounds heavenly!

    grace – put down the pepper jack. PUT DOWN THE PEPPERJACK, NOW! Don’t make me reach for my handcuffs… kidding. I appreciate your candidness! I would love to see what you thought of some of these ‘special’ cheeses. They’re not for everyone, but if you can handle the spice of pepperjack, you can try some stinky cheeses!! stop by again!

    And dear Nuria – we actually don’t have his English recipes book, but it’s on it’s way to be delivered to us now. We ordered it yesterday… ha! We basically made this from memory after watching his show over here in the states. And I didn’t know you didn’t like cheese!!! WHAT!?!?!? I can’t believe it! WHY!? Bad experience as a child? Lactose intolerant? The horrors – i couldn’t live w/o cheese. We’re posting another Asturian meal we made recently soon – I’d love to hear his and your feedback!

    Thanks all, as usually for the interesting comments. keep ’em coming.

    amy and jonny

  6. It’s funny, I make this salad a lot, I just put it all on mixed greens. Then at the end, when all that’s left is the good parts, I feel guilty to be just eating the apples (or pears), cheese and nuts out of the bottom of the bowl, all swimming in balsamic and walnut oil. Now I can just skip the middle man and leave the greens out altogether!

  7. You guys….we really need to be neighbors. A local cheese store here carries this kick ass cabrales cheese and we had it for the first time last year. At the same time, we found another kick butt epoisses and are now forever fans.
    When our local tropical fruit store has some fresh jackfruits, we go all out. The tropical flavors of this fresh jackfruit pair with these cheeses so perfectly, so smoothly. Even our friends who are not fans of ripe, pungent cheeses are amazed with the two come together.
    We would love to send you some fresh jackfruit, but it’s quite HUGE and might not pass TSA standards!
    We believe you in saying that this is an awesome salad!

  8. Thanks for the nice words about my blog. This sounds like a fantastic salad. Simple but profound at the same time. I haven’t had this cheese but will definitely try it if I get the chance.

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