Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Bejeweled Winter Salad with Candied Pecans and Orange Vinaigrette


This salad is basically just variation on a theme for me.

Many people like tomatoes and cucumbers and carrots and other savory items when it comes to salads, but not me. I love them with fruit and nuts.


I usually stick to what's in season. Strawberries and pineapple are a favorite combination during the summer. Apples and dried cranberries always grace my salads in the fall. So of course I use citrus come wintertime; it is the highlight of the winter produce aisle after all. Those radiant little globes are just so happy and bright that they seem to beat away the winter blues. 


Typically I toss nuts or seeds into my salad for a little crunch and some healthful fat. I went ahead and candied them for this particular salad since I wanted something a little more festive for a New Year's Eve dinner I hosted last week.


I think the glossy look and extra sweetness of the candied nuts was the perfect way to elevate the salad just a little.


Even if you don't candy the nuts to make the salad a little healthier, this "bejeweled" beauty is both pleasing to the eye and the taste buds. Enjoy!

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Bejeweled Winter Salad with Candied Pecans and Orange Vinaigrette
Adapted from Babble

I love the addition of the warm spices (ginger, cloves, and cinnamon) in this orange vinaigrette. I doubt anyone could guess what they were, but they do add a little something extra!

Serves: 4-6

Prep Time: 10 minutes

For the salad:
5 ounces baby romaine lettuce mix, gently washed and dried
4-5 clementines or mandarins, peeled and segmented, or a large can of mandarin oranges
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup pomegranate arils
1/2 cup candied pecans, recipe follows

For the vinaigrette:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, or white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, or 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 

For the salad:
Arrange the lettuce on a platter or in a salad bowl. Top with remaining ingredients. Serve with vinaigrette on the side, or dress and toss the salad  immediately prior to serving.

For the vinaigrette:
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except oil and whisk to combine. Still whisking, drizzle oil in slowly until combined. Vinaigrette will settle over time and will need to be re-whisked or shaken if not used immediately. 

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Candied Pecans

This will of course work with whatever you nuts you have on hand: walnuts, almonds, etc.

Yield: 3/4 cup candied pecans

Total Time: 20 minutes

3/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped (or nut of choice)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange pecans on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Sprinkle with salt, and toast for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place sugar in a small pan over medium heat and allow to melt and turn amber in color, about 10 minutes, gently stirring as needed. Once the sugar is completely liquefied, quickly add the pecans and rapidly stir until they are evenly coated. Quickly pour the mixture onto the silicone-lined baking sheet and separate the pecans using the spatula or a pair of forks. Allow to cool.

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