Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner: The Salad

My mom and I had this salad at the Artichoke Café in Albuquerque several years ago. It was the year that Andrew and I were going to spend our first Thanksgiving together, and the first year that I could put what I had learned from Rosie’s mom to the test. I had only been cooking on my own for a little over a year at that point so I was a little lost about what sides to serve and how to plan out the menu. When we had this salad, though, we both decided it would make a good addition to Thanksgiving dinner, and I’ve been making it every year since.

I love the sweet and salty of the candied pecans and blue cheese, and the sliced pear adds a nice freshness. The original salad used pear infused olive oil, but I couldn’t find any so I went with pear infused balsamic, which I found easily at the whole foods. If you can find one or the other, definitely use it as it brings the salad to the next level and makes it a little more special for a holiday salad.

This is really more of a list of ingredients and some general guidelines. You can customize this salad to your liking.

Thanksgiving Salad with Blue Cheese, Pear, and Candied Pecans

Baby mixed greens
Blue cheese
A firm, but ripe pear, such as an Anjou, thinly sliced
Pecans (about ¼ cup)
Dried cranberries
2 tbsp Sugar
2 tbsp Water
Good quality olive oil
Pear infused balsamic vinegar
Dry mustard
Salt and Pepper
Optional: if you don't have dried cranberries, pomegranate seeds work well too

Place sugar and water in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat; stir to dissolve sugar. Add the pecans and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, stirring often. Simmer for about 5 minutes until the pecans are golden and coated in the sauce. Careful not to let the pecans burn. Lay out to cool on parchment paper.

To make the dressing, mix 2 parts olive oil to 1 part balsamic, add minced shallot, dash of dry mustard and sea salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Toss with greens, and top with blue cheese crumbles, pear slices, pecans and dried cranberries (or pomegranate seeds).

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