Friday, January 11, 2008

0 Recipe #23: Mesclun & Baby Spinach Greens with Gorgonzola, Pear, & Candied Pecans

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As promised, here's another tasty, eye-catching, & fiber-rich salad recipe to delight the senses -- it's got texture & tanginess, with just a hint of sweetness. The various textures, flavors, & colors play off each other quite nicely. This is a sublime salad, one with both balance & body. Enjoy!

Mesclun & Baby Spinach Greens with Gorgonzola, Pear, & Candied Pecans

Salad Ingredients:
2 c. baby spinach & mesclun greens (mixture)
1/4 c. Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (can substitute Maytag Blue Cheese)
1/4 c. red onion, sliced into thin slivers
1/3 c. mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp. fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, finely minced
1 firm, ripe pear, peeled, cored, sliced into thin slivers (preferably Bosc or Bartlett)
1/4 c. strawberries, washed, hulled, & thinly sliced

Candied Pecans Ingredients:
1/3 c. pecan halves (or if unavailable, substitute walnut halves)
1 egg white
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper (or ground black pepper for less heat)
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. salt

Vinaigrette Ingredients:
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp. orange juice
1/2 tsp. red onion, grated
1/2 tsp. garlic, finely minced
1/8 tsp. ground mustard
1/8 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt

Directions: Toss salad ingredients in a large bowl, & set aside.

Prepare candied pecans: In a separate bowl, beat egg white with an electric mixer at the highest speed until stiff white peaks form, about 30-60 seconds. Fold in balsamic vinegar, honey, & spices, & gently mix until well combined. Add pecans & stir until pecans are completely coated with mixture. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil, and pour pecan mixture onto foil.  Be sure to use a spatula to completely extract all of the syrup from the bowl, in order to drizzle the remainder on top of the pecans. Spread coated pecans out on the baking sheet, rearranging them so that they are evenly spaced.  Also, you might have to use a spoon to scoop up any syrup that's travelled across the baking sheet, which can then be poured on top of the pecans. Bake pecans for 30 minutes. Stir mixture twice while baking.

While pecans are baking, prepare dressing: Combine dressing ingredients in a salad dressing beaker (or something comparable), place lid on top & with one hand firmly on top of the lid, shake vigorously until well-blended. Put in fridge to marinate.

When pecans are done, let them cool until sticky coating has solidified. When ready, peel off pecans (from the aluminium foil), add to salad, pour in dressing, & toss. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings as a side salad; 1-2 servings as a main course.

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