4. When the almonds are done, immediately sprinkle over the spice mixture, using a spatula to toss the hot almonds with the spices until evenly coated. Set the almonds aside to cool completely before using. This makes a generous 2 cups of spiced candied almonds, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe; the almonds will keep, sealed in an airtight container, at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Champagne vinaigrette

2 tablespoons minced shallots

1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon minced garlic

1/4 cup champagne vinegar

1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Generous 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

3/4 cup canola oil

In the bowl of a blender, beat together the shallots, mustard, sugar, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper. Slowly blend in the oil to form a creamy vinaigrette. Taste and adjust the seasonings if desired. This makes a generous cup of vinaigrette, which will keep, covered and refrigerated, three to five days.

Chicken, apple and goat cheese salad

1/3 cup Champagne vinaigrette, more to taste

8 to 10 cups (10 ounces) mixed greens

4 ounces sliced tart apple, preferably Granny Smith

1 cup spiced candied almonds, divided

6 ounces goat cheese, divided

1/4 red onion, sliced into thin half-rings

3 ounces dried apple "chips"

12 ounces cooked chicken, cut into strips

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a large bowl, combine one-third cup vinaigrette and the mixed greens, apple slices, one-half of the spiced candied almonds, one-half of the goat cheese (added in small dollops), the red onion, apple chips and chicken. Gently toss together, adding additional dressing as needed and seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Divide the salad among four plates. Garnish each serving with the remaining spiced candied almonds and goat cheese, sprinkling the almonds over the salad and adding the cheese in small dollops. Serve immediately.

Each serving: 854 calories; 38 grams protein; 48 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams fiber; 59 grams fat; 14 grams saturated fat; 97 mg cholesterol; 24 grams sugar; 384 mg sodium.

ALSO:

Apples 101 ... and 52 recipes

Mac 'n' cheese recipes galore!

Behind the scenes at the Test Kitchen

You can find Noelle Carter on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest. Email Noelle at noelle.carter@latimes.com.