Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I Give Thanks for This Salad!

I am so very excited to share this salad with you. This has been my all-time favorite Thanksgiving salad. The consistency and the flavor are wonderful. It the sweet and spicy pecans are crunchy and beautiful mixed with the soft and creamy goat cheese. The hot apple cider dressing is just the perfect touch. I love how the hot apple cider dressing slightly wilts the greens and softens the goat cheese. Every bite of this salad is the perfect bite when the slight crunch of freshness of the greens mixes with the hot, sweet, tangy cider dressing! 
Happy Thanksgiving 

PS. gosh, I have been a very bad blogger. I was so intent on eating gobbling this salad down that I forgot to take pictures. Even after you helped yourself to seconds thirds of delicious salad, you did not take a single photo of this awesome meal. Sorry!

Mixed Greens with Spiced Pecans, Chevre, and Hot Cider Dressing
from Cold Weather Cooking
Serves 6

"At first glance this salad may appear to be a lot of work: but the spiced pecans can be made up to 2 weeks in advances, leaving only the salad ingredients and dressing until the final preparation. The salad has such an exquisite array of contrasting flavors and textures that I am very content devouring it as an entire meal rather than relegating it to a daintier accompaniment portion."

This is one of my 3 favorite salads. It is so rich in texture and flavor.  I love how the hot cider dressing warms up the salad and wilts the lettuce slightly... so delicious.  We used to have this salad every year for Thanksgiving. However, we don't really need the salad (there is too much amazing food on the plate already). So this is just a special occasion salad. There is a lot that goes into making this dish, but it is so worth it. Yum!

Spiced Pecans: (also available at Trader Joe's)
2 cups pecan halves
2  1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon grated cloves
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

Prepare the spiced pecans: Place the nuts in a small bowl, cover with boiling water, and let soak for 15 minutes. Drain well and pat dry on paper towels.
Preheat the oven to 300˚F. Spread the nuts on an ungreased baking sheet and toast stirring occasionally for 45 minutes. Remove the  nuts and increase the oven temperature to 350˚F.

Whisk together the vegetable oil, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and mustard in a medium sized bowl. Add the hot pecans and toss to coat thoroughly. Spread the nuts in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast 15 minutes. Let cool, then store in an airtight container up 2 weeks.

Hot Cider Dressing:
2 cups apple cider
8 slices of bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 shallots, minced
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste

12 cups torn mixed salad greens, such as leaf lettuce, radicchio, endive and watercress
1 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb
1  1/2 large Macintosh apples, cored and thinly sliced
4 ounces crumbled chevre such as Montrachez

When ready to prepare the salad, place the cider in a small saucepan and boil until reduced to 1/2 cup, 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside.  Saute` the bacon in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat until crisp.  Drain on paper towels and discard all the  but 3 tablespoons of the fat remaining in the skillet. Add shallots to the skillet and saute` over medium heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the cinnamon and mustard and cook 1 minute more. Add the reduced cider and olive oil; season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep the dressing hot over medium-low heat.
Toss the salad greens, 1 cup of spiced pecans, the reserved bacon, fennel, apples and chevre together in a large salad bowl. Toss with hot cider dressing and serve at once.


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