If you have have ever visited the state of Michigan, particularly Traverse City, you might have tried a Michigan Salad, also known as a Michigan Cherry Salad. This salad typically includes a bed of salad greens, gorgonzola cheese, dried cherries, apples, nuts, and a delicious vinaigrette dressing.
Especially in the Detroit area but truly all over Michigan, you’ll spot a variation of this Michigan Salad on almost every restaurant menu. Sometimes you’ll see it with added chicken, but either way, it’s a must-try if you’re in the Michigan area. If not, then this Michigan salad recipe will cure all the cravings right from home!
Why is it called a Michigan Salad?
Michigan is renowned for its cherry production, a leading producer of tart cherries. The state’s climate and soil are well-suited for cherry cultivation, and the annual National Cherry Festival held in Traverse City every year celebrates the region’s cherry industry.
Michigan salads feature these tasty dried Michigan cherries along with apples, gorgonzola or blue cheese crumbles, and walnuts or pecans over a bed of greens.
I adore this wonderful salad, especially in the hot summer months. It’s so refreshing! You can prep it in advance and add the dressing when ready to serve. This makes it a dish that’s simple to pull together for guests if you’re entertaining or taking it to a BBQ or potluck!
The gorgonzola flavor pairs so well with the flavors of tart dried cherries and sweet apples. It’s one of those salads that even non “fruit in salad” lovers love! My husband is one example, and he loves this salad!
What You’ll Need to Make a Michigan Salad
As with all of my recipes, I try to give substitutions in case you don’t have a particular ingredient on hand or want to adjust for dietary restrictions! Here are a few substitutions or swaps for making this Michigan Salad.
- Cheese: You can swap out the gorgonzola crumbles for any robust cheese. Blue cheese crumbles are an excellent swap!
- Fruit: Cherries (ideally Michigan cherries) are a must in a true Michigan Salad but feel free to swap out the apples for pears if you like. If you can find Michigan apples, they’re delicious!
- Nuts: I love chopped walnuts and chopped pecans and use them interchangeably whenever I make this salad. You could also use almonds if you like.
- Lettuce: I like a blend of baby spinach leaves and spring greens, but you could use romaine lettuce too. Any lettuce blend you like will do just fine!
- Salad Dressing: Traditionally, a vinaigrette dressing is used on Michigan salads. I love this raspberry vinaigrette because it’s easy to make and full of flavor, but you could use dressing you like!
- Additions: Often red onion is added, so if you want, add some thinly sliced red onion on top too!
- Add Protein: Add sliced grilled chicken breasts or grilled salmon to this salad to add a boost of protein for a heartier meal.
The whole dish is brought together with a homemade vinaigrette dressing that features a delightful combination of flavors, including fresh raspberries, Dijon mustard, and maple syrup. Get ready to savor the taste of Michigan with every bite of this delicious salad!
All you need to make the vinaigrette is olive oil, apple cider vinegar, fresh raspberries, Dijon mustard, maple syrup and a pinch of salt! Blend together (I like to use an immersion blender or food processor) and drizzle over your prepped salad. Ta-da, ready to enjoy!
More Tasty Salads to Try
- Grinder Salad
- Apple, Pecan, and Blue Cheese Salad
- Panera Tomato Basil Cucumber Salad
- Easy 5 Bean Salad
- 10 ounces salad greens
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 1/2 cup walnuts chopped
- 1 large apple chopped
- 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
For the Vinaigrette Dressing
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup fresh raspberries
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 pinch salt
- Fill a large salad bowl with salad greens. Top with dried cherries, chopped apples, chopped walnuts, and gorgonzola cheese crumbles.
- To make raspberry vinaigrette dressing, add all dressing ingredients to a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Drizzle dressing over salad and enjoy!