The toasted pecan halves that have been bathed in a balsamic vinegar wash and seasoned with cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and sugar (or sugar substitute) make a flavorful, crunchy topping. The simple oil-and-Dijon mustard dressing is terrific; shredded Parmesan is dusted on the greens; thinly sliced pears, of course, represent the key ingredient.
The recipe hailed from my Taste of Home Thanksgiving Recipe Cards, which suggested it for the Thanksgiving table. I’m still mining them for ideas that seem to work just as well pre-Christmas as they did for the previous holiday. This salad is a beauty, for sure.
2/3 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, divided
dash cayenne pepper
dash ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons sugar (or sugar substitute), divided
1 package (5 ounces) spring mix salad greens (I used fresh spinach)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 medium pear, thinly sliced
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
In a large, heavy skillet cook the pecans, 2 tablespoons vinegar, cayenne, and cinnamon over medium heat until nuts are toasted, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Cook and stir for 2-4 minutes or until sugar is melted. Spread nuts on foil to cool. Place salad greens in a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk oil, mustard, salt, and remaining vinegar and sugar; drizzle over greens and toss to coat. Arrange the greens, pear slices, and pecans on six salad plates. Sprinkle top of salad with cheese. Makes 6 servings.