Thursday, August 13, 2009

Candied Pecan Salad

I get bored with plain old all-veggie salads. I always want to love them, but I just don’t. I think part of the reason is that I’m just not a fan of store-bought salad dressings.

I have a lot of salad recipes that I do love, but I think it would be safe to say that this is my all-time FAVORITE green salad recipe! The dressing is DIVINE! And I love that it’s naturally sweetened by the honey. Plus it’s a gorgeous pink color from the red wine vinegar.

Candied Pecan Salad

-2 heads of leafy greens (I like using romaine, but you could also substitute one head for a bag of baby spinach….If you buy romaine hearts, be sure to use more than 2 hearts since they are smaller than a full head.)
-3/4 c. Craisins
-2 crisp apples (Granny Smith are best, but anything will work)
-1 orange or orange juice (enough to toss apples in to prevent browning and add a little flavor)
-2 oz. Gorgonzola crumbles (You can use blue cheese but I prefer Gorgonzola-- it's milder!)
-3/4 c. chopped pecans (or walnuts if you prefer them)
-1/3 c. sugar

Honey Red Wine Vinaigrette
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. honey
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 c. vegetable or canola oil

In a blender, combine vinegar, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper. Place lid on blender and blend on high. While blender is running, add oil in a steady stream. Store in refrigerator for up to 2-3 weeks. Shake well before serving.


1. Wash and chop lettuce. Set aside to dry.

2. To candy the nuts, combine walnuts and sugar in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir constantly. After a few minutes, the sugar will start to liquefy. Be very careful to stir constantly at this point so the sugar doesn’t burn. The syrup will begin to darken and will coat the nuts. As soon as they start to reach a golden brown color, remove from heat. Careful not to burn them! Stir occasionally as the nuts begin to cool. After a few minutes, spread candied nuts onto a greased piece of parchment or wax paper and allow to cool completely. Set aside.

3. If your cheese didn’t come crumbled, chop it very finely. You want small crumbles, not chunks. (On a side note, I am really not a fan of super strong cheeses, but this is a KEY ingredient in this salad. Since the crumbles are so tiny, you never bite into a huge chunk of cheese.)

4. Slice apples very thinly and toss in orange juice to prevent browning (I LOVE using OJ for this—It adds tons of great flavor).

5. When you’re ready to serve, toss lettuce, cranberries, walnuts, apples, and Gorgonzola in a large bowl. Add dressing if desired. It really is better all mixed together rather than on top, but the dressing will wilt any leftovers.

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  1. I use pineapple juice on apples to stop the browning too but orange juice is definately handier.

  2. This was yummy! I didn't know candied pecans were so easy. Some of them were a little too hard though-- maybe I cooked them too long? Thanks for sharing your recipes!