Cranberry Pecan Salad

Cranberry Pecan SaladIt’s hot in Southern Oregon this week. Over 100 degrees hot. (I know, Arizona…I’m not whining, just commenting.)

That makes it perfect weather for a cool, crisp, delicious salad. I especially love salads that combine several different kinds of textures and flavors. Crisp and smooth…crunchy and soft…sweet and tangy. This salad has it all.

The Curly-Haired Chick and I recently led a cooking program at a local charter school. Each Wednesday, we got together with sixteen elementary school-aged micro-chefs to work on knife skills, kitchen collaboration, and expanding culinary tastes. It was a great experience on many levels, but one of my favorite sessions was when we included this recipe on the menu. Many of the kids had never tasted balsamic vinegar before, and the idea of mixing it with mustard? PLEASE!

We assured the kids that the end result would be tasty, and more than half of them agreed after all was said and done. So, I guess we could say that 10 out of 16 school kids approve of this salad. Considering that it has to go head to head with chicken nuggets on the typical kid menu, I think that’s a pretty good review.

One of my favorite parts of this recipe is the toasted pecans. Adding a little buttery warmth brings out an incredible rich flavor. If you have a penchant for sweetness, toss in a bit of brown sugar as you prepare your pecans.  You could make this salad a main course by adding some grilled chicken, or enjoy it on the side of some incredible brined pork chops. It’s versatile, delicious, and quite attractive-looking. As I said before,  this salad has it all.

Except for a built-in air conditioner. If only it had that…

Cranberry Pecan Salad
Recipe Type: Salad
Author: Bald Food Dude
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 5 mins
Total time: 10 mins
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • Salad:
  • 2 cups romaine, torn into manageable pieces
  • 1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted in butter
  • Dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
Salad:
  1. Start by toasting your pecans in a skillet with some butter. It really brings out a wonderful, rich flavor.
  2. Next, rinse your romaine, drying it (we use one of those salad spinner thingys…it’s great!), and tearing it into pieces that could almost fit into your mouth.
  3. Toss the romaine, cranberries, feta and toasted pecans in a large bowl.
Dressing:
  1. Mix balsamic vinegar, honey, dijon mustard and pepper with wire whisk until well blended.
  2. Gradually add oil, whisking constantly until nicely emulsified.
  3. For the photo in this recipe, we kept the dressing on the side…but we recommend you pour your incredible dressing over the salad, tossing it to cover everything with goodness, and serve immediately to people you care about.
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