Pecan Blue Cran Salad

[14 Mar 2007 | By | 10 Comments]

I realize this salad repeats itself in restaurant after restaurant and home after home. It is a bit of a standby: mixed greens with candied pecans, blue cheese and cranberries. Sometimes pears sneak in to replace the cranberries, or sugared walnuts dance among the greens in place of pecans. It is a common thread to piece sweet and acidic, pungent and crunchy all in one plateful of goodness. It is, in the end, a very good idea.

That being said, you know that despite the redundant nature of this salad, it is far from boring—and I will always look for ways to make a recipe more efficient, by cutting corners and improving on taste where possible. I used to make candied pecans with a process that involved egg whites and brown sugar and the oven (plus a few other ingredients, though I cannot remember what). They tasted great, but it took awhile to make them. Then, years ago at a dinner party we had a similar salad; I asked how they made their pecans. I was overjoyed to find a little trick that has remained in my kitchen for years:

You candy the pecans with maple syrup over the stove. That’s it.

Basic Vinaigrette
2/3 cup olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced (I use the handy, quick garlic press)
1 T minced fresh herbs OR 1 T dried Italian herbs
2 T either balsamic, port or sherry vinegar

Place dressing ingredients in a jar, screw on top, shake it all around.

Toss mixed greens, blue cheese and dried cranberries with dressing. Top with candied pecans. I didn’t put exact amounts, just figure in how many greens/cran/nuts/cheese will be needed per person/serving and go from there. To make the pecans: I throw about 1 cup pecans and 1/4 – 1/3 cup maple syrup (I eyeball it) in a small skillet over medium heat. Let it sizzle a bit, stirring to coat the nuts all for 5-8 minutes or so… off heat, let cool and add to salad. Enjoy!

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  • Lydia said (14 March 2007 at 3:05 pm):

    Just made a version of this with sauteed escarole and dried cranberries with a cooking class today. The combination was delightful, and the cheese just makes it better.

  • Kristen said (14 March 2007 at 7:59 pm):

    What a fantastic looking salad!

  • Terry B said (15 March 2007 at 2:56 pm):

    This looks delicious. I tend to forgo candied pecans in favor of plain chopped roasted nuts. That way, the sweet/tart taste of whatever fruit you use really shines through.

  • janelle said (15 March 2007 at 9:37 pm):

    Lydia: cooking class—I am so jealous!

    Kristen: Thanks!

    Terry: True!

  • sandi @ the whistlestop cafe said (16 March 2007 at 2:25 pm):

    This is my all time favorite salad…with pecans of course. (pronounced pee-cans!)

  • Karen said (19 March 2007 at 1:06 pm):

    Mmmm, maple syrup and pecans. What could be better than that?

  • peabody said (19 March 2007 at 6:22 pm):

    I love the flavor combinations.

  • janelle said (20 March 2007 at 10:58 am):

    Sandi: I know, eh, a salad that tastes like candy?

    Karen: not much:).

    Peabody: me too!

  • deborah said (30 March 2007 at 6:02 pm):

    I love a good apple in this kind of salad as well. Yummy!!!

  • Barbara said (18 April 2007 at 11:39 pm):

    Interesting theme have mentioned. With pleasure I shall support.
    And in general, good blog