Copycat Panera Bread Fuji Apple Salad
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My Fave Panera Bread Combo
Panera Bread is one of my favorite treats to splurge on. Do you ever wonder how they get the dried apples to be so delicious at places like Panera Bread? I know I do. One of my favorites items from Panera I order is their chicken and Fuji apple salad. It is soooo damned delicious! In my opinion, the crispy apples make the salad. Otherwise it was just a chicken salad, you know?
Can I Make It Home?
Anyway, I became more than a little intrigued with making that particular salad at home… Because I really, really did like the salad, but paying close to $10 a pop for my “U Pick 2” every visit is not my idea of good budgeting. So I made a trip to the grocery store and got all the fixins’ for a good chicken salad… And then I took out my dehydrator.
The Apples, Thoooo
I’ve had dried apples before, but they were always the chewy type… And I don’t like that type. The Panera apples were very crunchy , kind of like croutons.
I figured that I could teach myself to make these delicious slices of nature because… hey, that’s what I do. I try to recreate restaurant foods at home to save some money and also make a healthier version if I can. Soooo… Why not make dried apples?
I took out my mandolin slicer and chose a blade that would give me the “perfect” apple slice… not too thin, not too thick. Perfect .
I evenly laid the Granny Smith slices on my dehydrator plates and let them dry… for a loooong time,lol. No, it actually only took about 4 hours.. give it take. I wanted to make certain that the apples were extremely crispy.
I will admit, at first every time I touched them, they still seemed to be a little soft. But then I realized… “Take them off the heat and let them cool, Butthead!”. Once I did that, they crisped up but goood!!
I stored my wonderful natural food creation in a plastic Baggie, but then I remembered that I have my airtight glass food containers, and my O2 absorbers, so I used those instead. And now, I have my own crispy dried Apple slices to put into my homemade chicken salad. I could not find the Fuji apples at that moment, but the Granny Smiths were still packed with flavor,too!
There’s really no “recipe” for making these. You just need a food dehydrator & apples. Or, you can use your oven. The process should take 3-5 hours with the baking on a low setting (don’t forget to use parchment paper as a liner!). I have a Presto dehydrator that I got from Amazon, and I used a mandolin to get my apples evenly sliced. And you read before that I let the apples dry out for about 4 hours.
At the end of the apples being dried and crisped, I grabbed my grocery store ingredients:
- 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or grab a rotessorie chicken), shredded
- 1 (10 oz.) bag mixed greens
- quarter of a red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cups apple chips
- Cup glazed pecans
- 1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
- Cup freshly-sliced tomatoes (optional)
ASSEMBLE! Get your favorite bowl to assemble your salad and then lightly toss to combine all ingredients. Top off with a white balsamic vinaigrette. Your can make your own, but I prefer the Panera Bread bottled version.
Give this a try and see what you think. It’s great way to make natural and organic snacks and treats, and it saves you money. Just think, I only used 3 apples to make a bunch of apples crisps. 1 bag of apples is about $4, compared to one bag of manufacturer made dried Apples or other fruit which can cost upwards to $8 for a single bag of dried fruit. Plus with a dehydrator, you can make so much more goodness!
Thanks for reading and tune in next time!!