Nothing's Better With Strawberry Spinach Salad than Pecans!
Do you have a place in your kitchen with all your cookbooks? How often do you pull one off the shelf and look for a recipe to prepare for dinner? I have four bookshelves filled with cookbooks, many of which I seldom open today. Now, I tend to go online and look for the five star recipes from Chefs or from men and women cooking for their family. Isn't it great to find a recipe that so many people love rather than choosing something from a cookbook that may not be what you were expecting? The food that I cooked years ago is quite different from recipes I have today. I still cook my family faovites, but I enjoy finding a recipe with a twist or one that teaches me a new type of baking or cooking. I love caramelized pecans, but when I found this Strawberry Spinach Salad recipe I decided to caramelize my own pecans....how hard could this be? The first try was a miserable disaster...Yep, even if you've been cooking a long time, things can go awry! The heat was too high and I cooked them too long. I learned so much from my failed attempt that I looked for a different recipe that gave more information on how to carefully cook the pecans. The second try was a delicious success. Thank goodness I tried to make the pecans a day ahead so I had plenty of time to make a second batch! When you are cooking something for the first time remember the saying we all heard when we were little...if first you don't succeed keep trying because practice makes perfect food coming out of your kitchen!I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family did!
Strawberry Spinach Salad with Caramelize Pecans
2 tablespoon water
2 cups pecan halves
1/2 cup brown sugar
1(6 ounce) package fresh Baby Spinach
1 large Granny Smith apple, a Honey Crisp is also nice
Sliced strawberries when in season
1/2 red onion sliced
1⁄2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Some great tips I have learned:
When using feta, goat cheese, or blue cheese crumbles consider buying a block or a small log and crumble it yourself as tubs of cheese crumbles are coated in a starchy powder to keep them from caking together.
Thinly slice the red onion then place the slices in a bowl and cover with cold water while you make the rest of the salad. This process preserves the onions, but removes the harsh bite. (If you prefer chopped onion then chop the onion slices once it is removed from the cold water.)
Add water and brown sugar in small frying pan over medium heat.
Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly until most of the liquid has evaporated. (This is the tricky part - DON'T OVERCOOK as the sugars will burn!)
Pour them on the pan with the parchment and separate them with a fork or spoon. Let them dry for an hour. Store them in an airtight container.
1/2 Red Onion
Slice the red onion and place in a bowl of cold water
Core, slice and then cut the apples into bite-size pieces
Drain the water of the onion slices and pat dry with a paper towel
In bowl toss together spinach, pecans, apple, strawberries, onion slices and cheese.
Now all you need is the salad dressing! Here are two delicious dressings that go beautifully with this spinach salad and many other salads that you might make!
Note: To make ahead for a special dinner--toss apple with the dressing. Layer on greens, cheese and pecans and red onion. Cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator until needed, tossing just before serving.
Two Delicious Salad Dressings
I prefer salad dressings from scratch because I know exactly what ingredients are in the recipes!
Poppy Seed Dressing:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Prepare the dressing: In small mixing bowl or large liquid measuring cup, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients—vinegar, oil, poppy seeds, honey, mustard, salt, and pepper—until well combined. (Alternatively, you can shake the ingredients together in a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid).
The Best Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe - Sommer Collier
Prep Time: 5 mins
1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
Pour the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, 2 tablespoons honey, Dijon mustard, dried thyme, and garlic clove in a jar. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper.
Place the lid on the jar and shake vigorously to combine. Once smooth, taste. Then add more honey or salt if needed.
Kept this dressing in an airtight container in the fridge, it will keep well for 2-3 weeks. Just give it a good shake before serving.