Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Autumn Salad with Spicy Pecans and Champagne Vinaigrette [Rhonda]

Degree of difficulty: simple
Time: 10 minutes to spice your nuts, 10 minutes to pull it together
Serves: 2

Two recipes are involved here: the vinaigrette and the spiced nuts. The vinaigrette will keep, so make a lot for those nights when you're lazy.

Warning...the nuts are so delicious you'll have to make a double batch. Most will be eliminated through unintentional snacking. Suddenly, nothing left for the salad.

Autumn Salad with Spicy Pecans and Champagne Vinaigrette

Mixed greens, bibb lettuce, or red leaf lettuce, enough for two salads
1 Granny Smith apple (Or other variety. Don't make a trip to the store just for G Smith! Use a pear. Pear would be awesome.)
1/4 red onion, sliced into slivers
1 handful dried cranberries (dried cherries work nicely too)
Stilton cheese (Trader Joe's has a marvelous mango ginger stilton. I know. There's no Trader Joe's near you. Go with a regular Stilton, or do gorgonzola. Blue cheese, even.)
Crisped prosciutto (brown prosciutto in pan over medium heat until crispy)

Champagne Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup champagne vinegar, or white wine vinegar
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon dijon mustard, or more to taste
1/2 cup good olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine everything except the olive oil. Add it slowly, whisking. Taste the dressing and adjust the seasonings. This makes way more than what you'll need for two salads. Refrigerate the rest for another day.

Spiced Pecans:
1 1/2 cups pecans (or walnuts)
Bake in a 375 F oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until nuts are toasted.

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne (go big or go home!)
Mix these three ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
In small saucepan, melt butter. Add maple syrup and dark brown sugar. Stir. When nuts have finished toasting in the oven, add them into the saucepan. Stir. Then dump this over into the bowl of sugar, salt and cayenne. Stir well. Spread the spiced nuts on the cookie sheet and let cool. Refrigerate leftover nuts. Leftover what?

Suggested soundtrack:
Pancho Vladigerov's "Autumn Elegy"

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