Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Candied Pecan Berry Salad with Cream Cheese and Poppy Seed Dressing

Or, if Candied Pecan Berry Salad with Cream Cheese and Poppy Seed Dressing seems like a mouthful, you can just call it The Salad That's so Good You'll Save it for Dessert. There. That knocked off a whole word.

Seriously though, it has to be a pretty good salad for Yammie to post it. I mean, I am not a salad person. Mixed greens with assorted vegetables and Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing? Just looking at it would burn my eyeballs out and turn my tastebuds to ashes.

But this salad, with it's beautiful rainbow of colors, it's homemade poppy seed dressing, it's crunchy candied nuts, and it's endless variations to imagine up, is a salad even the staunchest of carnivores will graze upon with pleasure.

Candied Pecan Berry Salad with Cream Cheese and Poppy Seed Dressing

Other variations on this salad: You can use any combination of nuts, fruit, and cheese that you want. Sometimes I use mandarin oranges and cashews, sometimes I use apples and walnuts, you could use soft goat cheese, blue cheese, or feta cheese instead of cream cheese, you could add chicken or bacon, just be creative!

1 cup pecans
1/4 cup  brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter
kosher salt
Romaine lettuce 8 oz. (I used two really small stalks)
Sliced strawberries, about a cup
Blueberries, about 1/2 pint
About 1/4 of a big red onion
4 oz. cream cheese
Poppyseed Dressing (recipe below)

Grease a piece of parchment or wax paper and set aside. In a large pan (I use non-stick) combine the pecans, brown sugar, and butter. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until the sugar is pretty much melted into a syrup (it doesn't have to be completely melted if you don't want it to be). Spread onto prepared parchment paper and sprinkle with a little kosher salt. Allow to cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.
Cut up the lettuce, onion, and cream cheese. To cut the cream cheese into chunks, you'll want to use a big, sharp knife and wet it between slices. If you're having trouble, you can always just pull it into chunks.
Layer the lettuce, berries, nuts, onion, and cream cheese. Drizzle with dressing and serve immediately.

For the Dressing:

1/2 cup light olive oil
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar (I usually use apple cider vinegar, but you can also use white vinegar)
1/2 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard

Whisk well.
Recipe Credit: I think I got this recipe from my aunt, but I'm not sure. Either way, it's a family tradition. :)

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