Summer was made for salads. This month I want to share with you some new salad flavor combinations we have been trying for our family dinners. Today I am sharing a delicious Berry Pecan Salad that is perfect for sharing around the picnic table or at your next cookout. It is my new favorite salad and what makes this salad standout is the homemade raspberry vinaigrette dressing, pecans, and the combination of berries. When I took an enormously large bowl of this to our last cookout, I brought home an empty bowl and a promise to share the recipe.
Since going gluten-free, I have become really diligent about package reading and making sure that I am not eating anything that can make me sick. Many of the bottled dressings are not anything that I can eat or even pronounce. Unfortunately, not all the items I need to create beautiful flavor combinations are necessarily on the grocery store shelves where I shop.
For this dressing recipe, you will need Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar. I went to two grocery stores and wasn’t able to find it so I headed to The Olive Branch, a locally-owned shop that sells olive oils and vinegars. I spent the morning tasting all of these rich balsamic vinegars and learning more about the different flavor notes in each one. I took home a bottle of their Red Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar and couldn’t wait to put it to work in this salad. You can certainly substitute this homemade version with a bottled dressing, but I promise you that it will lack the depth of flavor and the richness that I was able to achieve with my homemade dressing. Because the dressing is so rich, a small drizzle is all you need to dress your salad bowl.
Have you ever candied nuts before? It is ridiculously easy and you can make a large quantity at one time for your salads. This recipe calls for just Candied Pecans, but you can add any variety of nuts into your salad that you prefer. Pictured above are my Sugar & Spice Nuts that are always a fun gift to give (and to eat!). They also are a delicious topper to oatmeal or even bowls of warm quinoa.
For the chicken, I use this technique for cooking chicken in bulk. If you are pressed for time, you can certainly substitute with a rotisserie chicken from your grocer.
To keep this salad vegan, ditch the chicken and replace the egg white in the nut recipe with two to three tablespoons of water and a tablespoon of flax to coat the candied nuts.
To enjoy this salad all week long, prepare it all for the week and consider creating your own DIY Salad Bar in the fridge for easy summer meals after a long day with the kids. Everyone can customize their own salad bowls and you can enjoy that prep work all week long!
I hope this salad inspires you to get creative with your summer salad and I look forward to sharing more fun salad combinations in the upcoming weeks!
Editor’s Note- Our recipe software is not working this week and we have submitted a support ticket. Please accept our apologies!
A berry pecan salad that is perfect for celebrating the berry season. Enjoy this one at your next potluck or cookout!
Pecan Berry Salad
1 bag of spinach
1 pint of strawberries, sliced
1 pint of blueberries, rinsed
1 pound roast chicken (see technique above or use a rotisserie chicken), sliced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Pinch of Salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg white (see above for vegan substitution)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups pecan halves
1/4 cup raspberry balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons white sugar (to taste, you may not even need it depending upon the quality of your balsamic vinegar)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, salt, ground cloves, and ground nutmeg in a plastic bag, seal the bag, and shake to mix.
Put the egg white and vanilla in a bowl, and beat until slightly foamy.
Add the pecans and stir to coat them well. Using a slotted spoon, lift the pecans out the bowl and transfer them to the bag of sugar and spices. Shake, making sure the pecans are well coated with the seasoning. Spread the pecans out on the prepared baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet.
Assemble the salad: spinach, sliced strawberries, blueberries, roast chicken, and then top with cooled candied pecans. In a mason jar, add the oil, vinegar, oregano, salt, pepper, mustard, and sugar. Shake well. Serve on the side for your salad, shaking well before using.
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes