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Sweet and Salty Summer Salad with Homemade Vinaigrette

Summertime is the perfect time of year to try new salads. They are light, refreshing and offer an endless amount of flavor combinations. This salad is one of my personal favorites! It is the perfect combination of sweet and salty that I love. You could make it as a side salad to a main meal or make it your meal by adding baked chicken on top. That is what I did when I made this for myself.

The spiced pecans that you add on top do contain sugar, so if you are trying to eliminate sugar from your diet this might not be the best recipe for you. You can always leave the pecans out, but I would have to argue that it would not taste nearly as good. The pecans are what make this salad. If you use the amount of pecans the recipe calls for per serving which is about 1/4 cup or a small handful of pecans, you’re sugar intake for this meal will only be about 1 tsp when it is all divided up. That equals out to only 4 grams of sugar. Not too bad.

I also think this salad is really pretty when it’s all put together. What do you think?

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Here is what you will need:

  • 1 5 oz. bag mixed baby greens
  • 2 ripe pears
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries (look for no sugar added or dehydrate your own)
  • 1/3 cup very thinly sliced red onion
  • Homemade Vinaigrette (See Recipe below)
  • 3/4 cup spiced pecans (See recipe below)
  • 3/4 cup crumbled goat cheese (you can also substitute blue cheese)
  • Baked Chicken if desired for more protein

Here is how you put it all together:

  1. Place the mixed baby greens in a large bowl
  2. Peel the pears and cut into thin slices, removing the core and any seeds
  3. Add the pear slices, cranberries and sliced red onion to the bowl with the greens. Toss with enough of the Homemade Vinaigrette to lightly coat everything in the bowl
  4. Sprinkle the Spiced Pecans and the goat cheese over the top of the tossed salad
  5. Serve immediately

Homemade Vinaigrette

  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 4 Tbsp. Red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. In a small blender, add in the mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Whisk with a fork to combine just slightly.
  2. Add the olive oil and blend until completely combined and thickened
  3. Adjust the seasonings to taste
  4. Cover until ready to use
  5. You can also just whisk all of the ingredients together by hand if you do not have a blender.

Spiced Pecans

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 cups pecans (1 lb.)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • olive or coconut oil
  • salt
  1. In a small bow, add salt, cinnamon, cayenne and cumin and mix to combine. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan over high heat, heat 6 cups water to a boil. Add pecans and let them cook for 1 minute. Drain and rinse under running hot water.
  3. Pour the drained nuts into a large bowl. Sprinkle with the sugar and toss to coat the nuts completely with the sugar
  4. Meanwhile, in a deep-sided skillet or saucepan, heat about 1 inch of oil over medium high heat.
  5. Once the oil is hot, carefully add about half of the pecans to the oil. Fry them for about 3 minutes, stirring often. Don’t let the pecans get too browned because they will continue to cook after they are taken out of the oil. You don’t want them to burn!
  6. With a spoon, remove pecans from the oil and place into a strainer bowl to drain the oil. Sprinkle the pecans with 1/2 of the salt-spice mixture and keep tossing the pecans so that they don’t stick together as they cool. Transfer the pecans to a waxed paper to cool completely. Fry the remaining pecans and then sprinkle them with the other half of the salt-spice mixture.
  7. Store the nuts in a container until ready to top your salad!


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