Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Salad with Orange Vinaigrette and Honey-Toasted Pecans

We are three weeks into this year's CSA, and so naturally, we are drowning in greens.

Spinach. Arugula. Mustard. Lettuces of every kind. Literally pounds of these greens have made their way into our fridge over the past few weeks. And though I have definitely gotten creative about adding greens into just about every meal and blanching spinach to freeze for later, with the hot weather we've been having (it's been in the nineties all week), we've been enjoying a bunch of salads, too.

Or maybe I should say, many servings of this one salad.

Because it's pretty much the only one I've been making.

But yes, it is that good.

You can sub any protein for the boiled eggs--grilled chicken or shrimp would be equally delightful, I'm sure, probably even better than the egg. But eggs don't need to be defrosted before you use them, so. You know.

A note on nuts: The DDH and I are not particularly big nut eaters. Neither of us go out of our way to put them on anything, we don't snack on them plain, and please for the love of all that is holy, keep them the heck away from our baked goods.

But the thing about CSAs is they make you try things you don't normally eat. In this case, our farmer's father has a bunch of pecan trees on his land, and so pecans regularly make their way into our CSA bags, especially early in the season when there isn't much else on offer. Except greens, obviously.

And it turns out that if you toast them in honey and butter, even a die-hard pecan-hater like the DDH will gobble them down. So while the dressing is all well and good for any salad, the pecans really make it special. And delicious.

Salad with Orange Vinaigrette and Honey-Toasted Pecans

Boil eggs, approximately 2 per person being served.

In a small bowl or convenient dressing shaker, combine:

1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Whisk or shake until thoroughly combined. Set aside. 

In a different small bowl, put some pecans, shelled. Ours arrive cracked and blown, so I still have to pick out all the shells and I just do this until I get bored. But if you like measurements, aim for about a quarter cup.

Add enough honey to coat the pecans. It's about a 2:1 ratio, so for a 1/4 cup pecans I use about 1/8 cup (aka 2 Tablespoons) honey. But this is all sort of to taste, so feel free to use a little more or a little less.

Mix the honey and pecans until thoroughly coated.

In a small skillet, heat about 2 Tablespoons butter over medium heat.

Once the butter is melted and foamy, add the pecans. Cook until browned and toasty.  There's a fine line between a browned pecan and a burnt pecan. Your best tool here is actually your nose; the pecans will just start to smell pecan-y and toasty. Stir them about; you'll notice the underside should be a little darker than the top. Give them another thirty seconds or so after your stir, then turn off the heat.

Separate your greens--spinach is especially good here, or the sort of thing called "premium greens mix" at the grocery store, but really just any sort of salad green will do--into each person's bowl. Top each serving with two sliced eggs and some pecans. Drizzle the dressing over the lot of it. Enjoy.

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