I hate nuts.
As a kid, I refused to eat them, and although my taste buds have grown more adventurous as I’ve gotten older, they’re still not my favorite. I’m a texture eater. I know some people love the added crunch of walnuts or pecans in brownies and cookies, but to me, that destroys a perfectly good, smooth baked good. There are exceptions, but more often than not, I completely avoid anything nutty.
This recipe is one of the exceptions.
A few summers ago, I started second-shooting weddings. I found myself at weddings nearly every weekend, often twice, and this salad began popping up on the menu at almost every one. Fresh greens, blue cheese, pears and candied pecans with a tangy vinaigrette. Each one was slightly different, every variation was a delicious mix of sweet and salty.
The truth is that the pecans MAKE this dish. Even for someone who despises nuts of all kinds. The sugary pecans were a perfect match for the sharp, salty blue cheese and the juicy pears. Everything went together exactly how it should, and I couldn’t stop thinking about this salad.
For the first time in my life, I was actually craving pecans. I had to figure out how to make the signature wedding salad myself! I experimented with different ingredients and amounts, Googled different recipes, and finally settled on a combination that I really love. I love this salad so much that I can eat it for lunch every day–and sometimes I do!–without getting sick of it.
There are two non-negotiable ingredients here. The nuts and the blue cheese.
If you leave either of these out, the salad is not the same. You can use walnuts instead of pecans, you can use spinach instead of kale; you can use apples instead of pears. All fine! Just don’t leave out the blue cheese and some type of nuts.
If you’re a blue cheese-hater, you probably won’t like this salad, simply put. But if you’re like me and aren’t a fan of pecans, you still might become a fan. Clearly, I have! I guess all it took was a little sugar to win me over! What are the chances?
- 4 cups kale, chopped
- 3 pears, cored and sliced
- 1 cup blue cheese crumbles
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 ½ Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 3/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp. sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare a sheet of waxed paper and set aside.
- Place pecans in a small skillet over low heat. Add ¼ cup sugar and stir continuously to coat pecans.
- Once sugar is melted and pecans are caramelized, immediately remove pan from heat and spread pecans onto prepared wax paper in a thin layer. Cool completely.
- In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, ½ tsp. sugar, and salt and pepper if desired. Mix well and set aside.
- For the salad:
- In a large bowl, toss kale with sliced pears, crumbled blue cheese, and cooled sugared pecans. Drizzle salad with dressing or, alternatively, leave salad as is and serve dressing on the side.
The pecans burn VERY quickly, so keep the heat low and remove them the second the sugar has melted!
You can substitute any type of greens that you like for the kale. Spinach is also good!
I used the Chardonnay variety of Dijon mustard and it was delicious, but use whatever you have on hand.
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat: 18.6 g
Cholesterol: 16.9 mg
Sodium: 348.8 mg
Total Carbs: 26.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.8 g
Protein: 7.6 g