Thursday, October 6, 2011

Spring greens and baby spinach with roasted pecans and cranberries in sweet vinaigrette

We love salad year round but for fall my favorite twist has been roasted pecans and dried cranberries when the autumn weather hits. I provided salad for a dear friend’s wedding this week and I wanted to see if I could come up with a special dressing for it.  I usually my basic vinaigrette or a store bought raspberry walnut. I wanted something sweet-tart  to offset the spicy, bitter of the greens I was using. So I blended a few different vinegars together and added a generous portion of sugar. Now you could cut back on the sugar here but I really like the way this turned out. Honestly, with a dressing this intensely flavored, a little goes a long way and you don’t actually use much at all to get great flavor. You could also just use two vinegars. I love the balsamic flavor but don’t want to use so much that it gets really dark. The white wine is mellower and the apple cider gives it a kick…but whatever you have on hand should work.

The wedding I made the salad for was wonderful!  The wedding party was dressed quite snazzy and fun and everyone had a great time. I will put up some pics at the bottom of this post.  Best wishes the bride and groom J

Spring greens and baby spinach with roasted pecans and cranberries in sweet vinaigrette

¼ cup white wine vinegar
2-3 TBSP balsamic raspberry vinegar ( or just balsamic if you can’t find raspberry)
2 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar
1/3 cup white sugar( may use a little more for bitter greens)
½ each salt, onion powder,
½ tsp. roasted garlic and herb seasoning (OR garlic powder or crushed garlic)
½ cup light olive or canola oil

For Salad:

Spring greens and baby spinach mix- very large handful per person
About a cup of pecans
¾ cup dried sweetened cranberries ( or cherries and raisins)

Dressing:  First make the dressing. I like to use the blender if possible.  Put all the dressing ingredients except oil into blender. Cover and mix well. While blender if going on lowest setting, remove the little center piece of lid being careful of splatters,  and begin slowly drizzling oil in. Close lid tight and increase speed to medium high. Let it blend till thoroughly incorporated and creamy. Serve immediately or leave in blender till serving so you can re-mix right before. If you can’t blend, shake very vigorously  before serving.

Roast pecans: Preheat oven to 350 and place single layer of pecans on baking sheet. Bake for about 6 minutes and turn them over, bake about 3-4 more minutes. Remove to plate to cool. These are so great- you should make extra!

Salad: You can use any greens such as spring, baby romaine, red leaf, or baby spinach. I like half spring greens and half spinach. Don’t forget—ALL greens must be washed, even if it says prewashed! There was an E-coli incident with bagged spinach a few years back. Be safe.  I have heard you use about a lb of salad for 10 people but I use the handful measuring method J

Use a salad spinner or paper towels to completely dry greens. Place in a mixing bowl, add a bit of the dressing- start with very little dressing and add more if needed.  Toss well. If everyone can eat nuts,  sprinkle with a ½ cup or so of nuts and ½ cup cranberries. Toss again. Sprinkle a bit more on top and  place the extra in small bowls on the table. Serve immediately. Enjoy!


  1. Hi Denise!!! Lovely salad and I'm curious to try the balsamic raspberry vinegar. Hmmm sounds really nice. I do enjoy salad all the time and different kinds of dressing is always nice. Thanks for sharing! What a beautiful wedding!! Love the style!

  2. Great dressing! I love the tart/sweet combo :) And the wedding looks spectacular! Buzzed

  3. This dressing is definitely right up my alley. Delicious!

  4. That is a beautiful wedding party. Thanks for sharing the pictures. I think your salad was a perfect choice for the reception. Well done!

  5. Mmmmmm...this is my favorite kind of salad...greens, nuts and fruit! I will try your dressing soon...I have a bottle of raspberry balsamic vinegar just waiting to be used again~

  6. Lovely salad, and what a gorgeous wedding dress!

  7. That salad sounds awesome! I love weddings! Beautiful wedding.

  8. I would like to know where you got raspberry balsamic vinegar. Was it a specialty store? I love salad all year too.

  9. Thanks for all your wonderful comments!!

    The raspberry balsamic vinegar I used is Napa Vally Naturals. I think I picked it up in some place like Vitamin Cottage or whole foods. If you cannot find it, just use balsamic. It has a wonderful flavor all on its own.