Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pear and Pecan Salad

With all the spring weather I've been making a lot of salads lately.  Also, I am growing my own baby lettuce mix this year for the first time, and it's so delicious I just keep eating it!  This salad was easy to throw together and was fantastic!  You can make a larger batch of the caramelized pecans and store them in an airtight container for a few weeks if you'd like.  That way you can throw them into any salad that comes your way.  Or munch on them in the dead of night.  Either way.

Pear and Pecan Salad

2 T sugar
1/2 cup pecans
Mixed lettuce greens
1 pear, firm but ripe
1 small can mandarin oranges, or 1 clementine, peeled, sliced in half horizontally, and sectioned
1 avocado, peeled and cut into 1/2" chunks
1 T Craisins
2 T frozen or fresh blueberries
2 T goat cheese or feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp lemon juice

Lay out a sheet of parchment or wax paper.  In a medium-sized nonstick skillet melt the sugar over medium-low heat.  For a few minutes it will look like it's not doing anything, then all the sudden it will turn liquid, then will start to brown.  Just as it's become liquid but before it's brown, toss the pecans into the melted sugar.  Using a spatula, stir until the pecans are coated in the brown carmelly sugar.  Pour out onto the wax or parchment paper and let cool for about 15 minutes (you can put it in the fridge to speed it up). Then either break it into pieces or chop it roughly (you don't want them finely chopped!).

In a small bowl combine the water and lemon juice.  Cut the pear into 16 slices, then cut each slice in half crosswise.  Dip the cut pears briefly into the lemon water.  This will prevent the pear turning brown and mushy for a few hours. 

In a large bowl combine the lettuce greens, pears, oranges, avocado, Craisins, and nuts.  Toss lightly, then top with the cheese and blueberries.  Serve with poppy seed or a vinaigrette dressing.

Serves 4 as a main dish, or 6 as a side.

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