Spinach Salad with Maple Pecans, Apple and Blue Cheese
This salad is simple enough to make on a weeknight and will brighten any fall or winter meal, but is beautiful and has a festive feel so it fits in perfectly on a holiday table. The maple pecans are also wonderful packaged as a gift or for snacking, so consider making a big batch of them to keep in the fridge.
- Maple Pecans:
- 1/2 cup raw pecan halves (plus 3 tablespoons for dressing, optional)
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- Pinch of salt
- For the dressing:
- 3 tablespoons pecan oil or extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon finely minced shallot
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- For assembly:
- 1/2 sweet red apple, such as Fuji or gala
- 5 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves
- 2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
- To make the maple pecans: place the pecan halves and maple syrup in a dry skillet over a medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the syrup is caramelized and the nuts are toasted. Transfer to a plate to cool.
- To make the dressing: whisk the oil, vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, shallot, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Whisk in the three tablespoons chopped pecans, if using.
- Right before serving: cut the apple into matchsticks. Place the spinach into a large bowl and toss with the dressing until coated. Divide the spinach among 4 serving plates. Evenly distribute apples, blue cheese crumbles and maple pecans as toppings and serve. Makes 6 cups.