Monday, December 20, 2010

Mixed Green Salad with Clementines, Dried Cranberries and Spicy Pecans

This salad worked well for Sunday's brunch, served before the main course of Shrimp and Grits. It would make a great first course for a variety of holiday meals. The salad is based on this recipe from Epicurious. I incorporated a couple of the reviewers' comments -- reducing the soaking liquid to use in the dressing, and making spiced pecans rather than just toasting them. I also used Clementines, small, almost seedless Mandarin oranges with intense flavor. Plus, they are easy to peel!

Mixed Green Salad with Clementines, Dried Cranberries and Spicy Pecans

Ingredients:

For the pecans:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • Kosher salt, to taste
For the dressing:
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 6 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
For the salad:
  • 6 cups mixed greens
  • 3 clementines, peel and white pith removed, segmented
  • 3/4 cup spicy pecans
Directions:
  1. Line a baking sheet with foil. Lightly spray the foil with cooking spray.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add ginger, curry powder and cayenne pepper; sauté until fragrant, about 5 seconds. Stir in the sugar and honey.
  3. Add the pecans. Stir until the honey mixture is amber in color and the pecans are well coated, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle with salt.
  4. Bring one cup of orange juice to simmer in a heavy small saucepan. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in the dried cranberries. Let stand until softened, about 30 minutes.
  5. Drain well, reserving juice. Return the soaking juice to the saucepan, simmer and reduce to 3 tablespoons.
  6. Whisk oil, vinegar, orange zest and the orange juice reduction in a small bowl to blend. Mix in the cranberries. Season the dressing to taste with salt and pepper. The dressing can be prepared one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.
  7. Place the greens in a large bowl. Toss with 2/3 of the dressing. Divide the greens among 6 plates. Add the clementine segments to the bowl; toss with the remaining dressing.
  8. Top the salads with clementine segments and pecans.
Yield: 6 servings
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes

This is my variation on this Holiday Spiced Nuts recipe from Epicurious. I increased the sugar and added kosher salt. The recipe makes twice as many pecans as are needed for the salad, but the leftovers are perfect for serving alongside cocktails.

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