Side Dish: Salad perfect for last days of summer _lowres

Photo provided by Estancia Winery -- On a hot day, serve a cool salad like Gail Simmons' Watercress and Goat Cheese Salad with Green Apple, Toasted Nuts and Honey Vinaigrette. A chardonnay wine is a good complement.

Where has the year gone? It’s hard to believe Labor Day is only three days away.

If you, like I, have been caught off guard by the upcoming holiday, but want to entertain during the last long weekend of summer, think about serving quick and cool salads. After all, why cook during the oppressive summer heat.

Estancia Winery Ambassador and “Top Chef” judge Gail Simmons has created seasonal recipes to pair with her favorite Estancia wines. One of her recipes is a lovely salad that pairs tart, peppery watercress with sweet apple, creamy goat cheese and toasted almonds.

Watercress is a member of the mustard family. Look for small, crisp leaves with dark green leaves. It doesn’t keep well so should be eaten soon after purchase. Watercress also combines well with eggs or with grilled fish and may be used in sandwiches or soups.

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s food editor. Her email address is

Watercress and Goat Cheese Salad With Green Apple and Toasted Nuts and Honey Vinaigrette

Serves 4. Recipe is by Estancia Winery Ambassador and “Top Chef” judge Gail Simmons, who pairs the salad with Estancia Monterey County Chardonnay.

1?3 cup almonds or hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

3 tbls. fresh lemon juice

1 tbl. honey

2 tbls. extra-virgin olive oil


Freshly ground black pepper

2 bunches watercress, tough stems removed

1 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced

3 ozs. mild goat cheese, crumbled

1. In a small skillet, toast nuts over medium heat, watching closely and shaking pan evenly, until lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice and honey; in a slow and steady stream, whisk in oil. Season with generous pinch salt and pepper. Add watercress, apple, goat cheese and nuts; toss to coat.