After returning from Whistler my family came over a couple of weeks ago to celebrate my birthday at home. Most of the food we made consisted of old time favorites but with my burning desire to always try something new I thought to make a different salad than usual. As spring is in the air I thought to take advantage of all the fresh fruit now appearing in grocery stores.
This salad was quite simple: it featured spinach, blueberries, goat cheese, roasted beets and candied pecans. It was tied together through a sweet but tangy strawberry balsamic vinaigrette. I think that there are a variety of ingredients that could be put in the salad but I decided to go for blueberries and beets because I really love them. Also candying the pecans gave them a great crunch and added the necessary amount of texture to the salad.
Note: I will post the recipe for the salad dressing and how to make candied pecans. The rest of the ingredients can be chosen based on what you have/what is in season.
Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
Note: This is more than enough dressing for one large salad. I drizzled some on the salad and served the rest on the side for those who wanted extra.
- 1 lb fresh strawberries
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1-2 tsp water
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Optional: 1 tbsp poppy seeds
- Remove the stems from the strawberries and cut in half.
- In a small pot, combine the strawberries, sugar, salt, and water. Heat over medium heat until the strawberries begin to soften and release their juices.
- Blend the strawberries until they are smooth and then strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to separate the seeds.
- Allow the strawberry puree to cool then whisk together with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and poppy seeds. Add some extra salt and pepper to taste.
- 2 cups pecan halves
- 4 tbsp brown sugar
- 4 tbsp (¼ cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- In a large pan, roast the pecans for about two minutes, until they start to soften and become fragrant.
- Add the butter pieces and stir so all the nuts are well coated.
- Add the brown sugar and keep stirring so that the nuts do not burn. Continue lightly frying for about 3-5 minutes, until all of the butter has melted and the sugar has caramelized.
- Pour out the nuts on a parchment paper-lined plate and allow them to cool for 10 minutes so that the sugar can set.