The season of hearty, calorie laden comfort food is upon us! I do love big bowls of chowder, pumpkin bread and anything creamy and cheesy as much as the next person, but my motto is “everything in moderation.” I eat a lot of salad, and I really do love it. I ate my fill of caprese and salads topped with fresh corn and garden tomatoes this summer, but now fall produce is getting its turn.
Spring mix is topped with crisp apples, tart dried cranberries, candied pecans, blue cheese and a simple balsamic vinaigrette. A perfect way to enjoy fall flavors while being both light and delicious.
While you could buy candied pecans, homemade are so simple to make and completely customize-able. Add a little cinnamon or even a pinch cayenne for flavor. If you want to switch it up some, replace the apples with pears and the blue cheese with goat cheese.
5 ounces of mixed gourmet/spring greens
1 apple (I used Fuji), cored and chopped (to equal about 1¼ cups)
1 cup candied pecans
⅔ cup dried cranberries
4 ounces crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1½ tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon smooth dijon mustard
a pinch (about 1/16 teaspoon) kosher salt
1 cup pecans
1½ tablespoons packed brown sugar
1½ teaspoons water
⅛ teaspoon vanilla
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
For pecans: Mix together all ingredients but the pecans. In a medium-large saucepan over medium heat, toast pecans for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. When you begin to smell them, they're done.
Quickly drizzle the sugar mixture into the pan, on top of the pecans, stirring the nuts as you drizzle. Stir constantly for about 15 seconds, until the pecans are thoroughly coated in the sugar mixture. Immediately remove from heat so they don't burn.
Spread the pecans on a piece of parchment to cool. Once cooled, you can break the nuts apart, if needed.
Enjoy immediately or store in an airtight container. The pecans will be slightly sticky at first, but the coating hardens further within a few hours.
For the salad: Place greens in a large serving bowl (or divide it among individual salad plates).
Sprinkle apples, pecans, cranberries, and cheese over top of greens.
For dressing, whisk together balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, olive oil, mustard, and salt until emulsified.
Dress salad just before serving.
Recipe Source: Two Healthy Kitchens