The salad dressing is easy to make and quite flavorful. I had to substitute a couple of ingredients since I'm trying to use what I have on hand.
The candied pecans are something that you have to watch closely since they go from doing well initially to cooking very quickly and potentially burning. I removed them from the stove just in time.
The salad itself has a variety of ingredients that offer bites of sweetness along with neutral flavors but different textures.
Candied Pecans (I doubled this so I had extra for other salads)
1 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup pecan halves (I used walnuts since we didn't have pecans on hand)
Pinch of salt
Dressing (I doubled this as well)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup extra light tasting olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar (I used rice wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (I used a sesame-honey mustard dip)
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 1/2 teaspoon instead of the 2 cloves)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
10 ounces fresh baby spinach - rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
1/4 small red onion, sliced
1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 avocado, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 (5 ounce) package blue cheese crumbles
Place a sheet of parchment paper on the counter top to dry the pecans.
In a small skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add pecans, sugar, and salt. Stir until the pecans are well coated. Stir until the sugar caramelizes, about 3-5 minutes. (Note: watch very carefully! This process goes quickly and can burn in a split second.)
Spread onto parchment paper. Separate pecans. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile: in a pint size mason jar combine dressing ingredients. Seal and shake until well combined. Set aside on the counter. (I used the Ninja food processor and set it to puree. It blended the ingredients beautifully.)
In a large bowl, combine the spinach, onions, strawberries, and blueberries. Pour about 1/2 of dressing over salad, and toss. Top with avocado, cheese and candied nuts. Serve remaining dressing on the side.
Refrigerate for 15 minutes before serving (or serve immediately).
Serve with the remaining dressing on the side. Enjoy!
The dressing may solidify in the refrigerator. It is best to allow dressing to sit on the counter for a while before serving. Shake well before using.
If you are making the salad ahead, prep the salad ingredients and refrigerate. Then dress the salad about 15 minutes before serving. This will help keep the spinach from wilting.
Mozzarella or feta cheese are also amazing on this salad.
Lighten it up by subbing plain pecans for the candied ones and eliminate the sugar from the dressing.
Add sliced grilled chicken for a fabulous summer meal.