Sunday, September 25, 2011

Maple-Cider Autumn Salad

Yesterday, I had the absolute pleasure to help friends celebrate their wedding.  Despite fighting a cold, and the sky threatening to rain down on us all, the bride and groom were smiling, cheery and energetic.  It was warm for a fall night, and the fall colours were evident and beautiful everywhere.  It ended up being a lovely fall evening, and I'm very glad I got to go :)

One of the great ideas to come out of yesterday's wedding was that the wedding cake was cupcakes instead of just one big cake.  It saves the bride and groom losing their night cutting cake, and it allowed us guests to have a choice of three flavours.  I had a brownie piece.  Surprised?

This morning I decided I'd like to eat a little lighter than normally today to help balance out the wedding fare I had last night.  I looked first for a recipe to mock the salad from last night, and in my search, I stumbled upon the one I choose to make today.  It's got maple and nuts in it, making it a great fall-themed meal, and it's largely made with ingredients I'd normally have in my pantry or fridge, which is especially good after last night's party.

Maple-Cider Autumn Salad
Makes: 8 servings

Sugared Nuts Ingredients:
6 ounces walnut or pecan halves
2 tbsp butter, melted
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground red pepper

Maple-Cider Vinaigrette Ingredients:
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salad Ingredients:
10 ounce bag baby spinach
1 large ripe pear, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Prepare sugared nuts: Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss nuts in melted butter. Stir together sugar and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl; sprinkle over nuts, tossing to coat. Spread in a single layer on a nonstick aluminum foil-lined pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack; separate walnuts with a fork.

Prepare vinaigrette: Whisk together first 5 ingredients. Gradually whisk in oil until completely blended. 

Prepare salad: Combine all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Sprinkle in nuts. Drizzle with Vinaigrette, gently tossing to coat.
Note: You can store leftover nuts in an airtight container for up to 1 week.  Vinaigrette can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Source: Loosely adapted from Recipe Girl.
Congratulations again to the bride and groom!

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