Summer Fruit and Candied Pecan Salad
Aug 31, 2015 11:30AM
By Alexa Peduzzi
Hello again, North Hills Monthly readers!
My name is Alexa Peduzzi, and I’m a 20-something Pittsburgher who runs Fooduzzi.com, a food blog dedicated to classic recipes made healthy. Whole foods are my passion, as I believe that I simply operate better when I am fueling my body with natural foods that come straight from the source—the earth! While I am not a nutritionist or doctor, it doesn't take a licensed, registered dietitian to be able to feel the powerful difference that whole foods can make in one's diet.
So, happy September! Man, has this year flown by. I started my first post-college job a little over a month ago, and, since then, my life has been a whirlwind of experiences, long nights, and a lack of sleep.
I feel like it's worth it when I take a second to breathe and realize what's ahead: fall.
Guys, I love fall.
I love the sweaters. I love the scarves. I love the leaves. I love the crisp mornings. I love the cinnamon. I love the spice...I love everything about this wonderful time of year.
That's not to say that I don't appreciate the summer sun, but fall is really what shines for me. No other season compares to the perfection that fall delivers every year.
Of course, being a food blogger, I'm partial to the food aspect of this wonderful season. Squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, apples…I’m tellin’ ya: fall is perfect.
I know some of you summer purists out there will challenge me on my favorite season, but hear me out! Summer produce is surely delicious with all of its cherries, stone fruits, and berries. Everything is so fresh and vibrant in the summer; it stands as a close #2 on Fooduzzi's list of favorite seasons. If only there was a way to bring these two seasons together...
I shared this recipe on my blog about a month-and-a-half ago, but I think September is the perfect time to take advantage of the last of the summer crops and greet the fall bounty. Meet my Summer Fruit and Candied Pecan Salad: a 10-minute entree just waiting to be devoured.
We start this salad off with some mixed greens. I'm crazy about this stuff –the differing colors and textures makes for such a beautiful meal—but feel free to use your favorite green! Romaine, arugula, spinach...they'll all work here. We'll also dress our greens in a simple, four-ingredient balsamic vinaigrette, aka my favorite everyday, go-to dressing. I always keep extras in my fridge, and I know you'll love it, too!
Have you ever had the pleasure of tasting a candied pecan? They're bound to become your new favorite salad-topper as soon as you see how simple they are to make. Once they're ‘candied,’ they take on an irresistible chewy texture, and they add a nice sweetness to this Summer Fruit and Candied Pecan Salad.
To add some creaminess to this dinner salad, you have two options. You could add brie cheese (this is what I did). Brie is one of my favorite cheeses because of its soft flavor and unique texture. If you have some dairy free-ers in your household, diced avocado would be a delightful choice and would even add some healthy satiating fats to this light meal.
Next, some summer bliss. Hands down, blackberries are my favorite summer fruit. I'm sure that I've eaten pounds of them by the time summer ends every single year. I go bonkers over their tart-sweet flavor, and their juicy texture reigns supreme over other berry varieties. Definitely try to find some of these suckers before the season is up!
Blackberries are to summer as apples are to fall. Due to my full-blown addiction to their crisp crunch and flavor, I eat at least two apples a day. While I'm partial to Fujis for snacking, Granny Smiths are what you want here to balance the sweetness of the blackberries, nuts, and dressing. You're going to love the tart bite it gives this salad!
And there you have it: a simple, 10-minute meal courtesy of summer and fall produce. This salad truly should not be missed; one bite and you'll taste the perfect harmony of the seasons.
Summer Fruit and Candied Pecan Salad
Yield: 2 salads
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. raw honey or pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp. unsalted & toasted pecan pieces
1/2-1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
2 servings mixed greens
1/2-1 pint blackberries
1/3 cup diced brie (or avocado for dairy free/vegan option)
Make the balsamic vinaigrette: Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and 2 tsp. honey/maple syrup to a small jar. Secure lid and shake until combined. Set aside.
Prep the salad ingredients: Add 1 Tbsp. honey/maple syrup to a small skillet. Melt over medium heat, and then add 2 Tbsp. pecan pieces. Mix to coat pecan pieces. Allow honey/maple syrup to bubble for 30 seconds, then remove and place on a piece of parchment paper. Place in freezer to set, about 10 minutes.
Assemble the salad: Dress mixed greens in just enough dressing to lightly coat greens.* Place apple, blackberries, and brie on top. Crumble candied pecans on top.
*You will have leftover dressing. But this is a good thing! Dress all the summer salads with this delicious four-ingredient recipe or use it as a marinade for ALL the grilled things!