Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Memorial Day Meal Part II

Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad
When my family gets together for holiday meals, we usually make this dressing and it sure is a crowd pleaser.  Mmmm... this dressing packs a powerful flavor punch.  You start off with a little sweet followed by the tangy balsamic, throw in the candied pecans and this salad will make your taste buds sing!

Here is what you will need for the candied pecans.  It is such a simple yet worthwhile process!
Brown sugar, olive oil, pecans and balsamic vinegar.
Add the olive oil to a medium saucepan.
then the vinegar
and then the brown sugar.  Cook it over medium to low heat for a couple of minutes until the sugar melts and the mixture starts to bubble.  Be careful to not let it burn.  You want the taste of sugary sweetness, not charred crackle.  I only know this from experience. 
Once your mixture bubbles, turn off the heat and add in your pecans.
Toss them around and cover them with all of that sweet goodness!
I told you this part was easy.  Now have a little taste.
I'll wait.

Now lets start on the dressing.
This is pretty simple too.
Add all of the ingredients to a measuring cup and stir vigorously, blending the oil with the vinegar.  If it is too tangy from the balsamic you can offset it with some more olive oil. 
Easy enough, huh??

Now to prepare the salad.
And wouldn't you know, this would be easy too...
I am using some of the lettuce from our garden.  I didn't have any of the fancy salad greens on hand, but feel free to throw those in here.
Next, chop your onion.  I begin by slicing off one of the ends and then unwrap the outer layer.  I make another slice and cut it in half.  Sometimes the outer rings are quite large so I cut them in half too.  

Throw the onions on the lettuce.
Then the pecans.  Sneak some to eat, because you know you want to!
Then pour on the dressing and toss it around lightly to coat.

Top with a small handful of feta, which makes everything 'beta and serve.

Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad
For the Dressing:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Candied Pecans
1 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

For the Salad:
Bowl of fresh green lettuce or spring greens
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 red onion
1 cup candied pecans
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

To prepare the dressing, mix the vinegar and water.  Add the sugar and let is dissolve.  Add the lemon juice and stir.  When you are ready to put the dressing on the salad, vigorously mix in the oil and pour onto lettuce.  If preparing ahead of time, refrigerate.  Remove when ready and heat up for twenty to thirty seconds in the microwave, then mix together.

To prepare the candied pecans, stir the brown sugar, oil and vinegar in a medium saucepan over high heat.  Once the sugar dissolves and the mixture starts to form bubbles turn off heat and throw in the pecans.  Toss to coat.  Move them to a separate plate to cool.

For the salad, chop the lettuce.  Cut the onion into long slices.    
Place lettuce in a bowl and add the onion, cranberries and pecans.  Pour on the vinaigrette and lightly toss.  Top with feta cheese and serve.

This salad can also be prepared ahead of time, just combine everything on the salad except for the dressing.  When ready, pour on the dressing, toss it around and serve.  

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