Nonstick vegetable oil spray1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 1 1/2 cups walnuts 1/2 cup walnut or olive oil 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar 1 bunch arugula 2 apples, unpeeled, cored, thinly sliced 6 ounces Spanish Manchego cheese or sharp white cheddar cheese, shaved 3/4 cup pitted dates, sliced or raisins 2 shallots, minced (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line heavy rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spray foil with nonstick spray. Combine sugar and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar in small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Add nuts; toss to coat. Transfer mixture to baking sheet.  Bake until nuts are deep brown and syrup thickens and coats nuts, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on baking sheet. Break nuts apart.

Boil 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar in small saucepan over medium-high heat until syrupy and reduced to 1/4 cup, about 4 minutes. Whisk oil and white wine vinegar in bowl. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Keep at room temperature. Rewarm balsamic syrup before using. Re-whisk vinaigrette before using.)

Toss arugula, apples, half of cheese, dates, walnuts, and shallots in large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season salad with salt and pepper. Mound salad in center of each plate. Drizzle balsamic syrup around salads. Sprinkle remaining cheese atop salads.

adapted from