Thursday, November 17, 2011

Spinach Salad with Cajun Pecans and Poppy Seed Dressing

Have a holiday party coming up and you've been selected to bring a salad? Well this is an easy yet, knock-your-socks off of recipe.  Most of it can be done days in advance so you aren't in a time crunch running out the door.  I brought it to a book club last week and it was a hit.  The dressing is homemade, but very easy if you have a food processor or blender. Also, the recipe makes a TON more dressing than needed for the salad so you will have it for weeks in your fridge.

This recipe was first posted on Tutto Bella Blog.  I was so excited when these three sisters reached out to me to do a guest post.  Their blog is a compilation of weddings, parties, fashion, decor and DIY (and everything in between).  It's truly a great place to get ideas and just raise your spirits! Check them out here!


-2 bags baby spinach salad
-8 ounces pecans
-1 (11 oz) can mandarin oranges (or two smaller ones), drained
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-2 Tbsp cajun seasoning (I use Tony Chachere's)
-1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

Dressing Ingredients:

-1.5 cups sugar
-1 tsp dry mustard
-3 cups (plus 1 Tbsp) vegetable oil
-1 cup apple cider vinegar
-2 Tbsp chopped white onion
-1.5 Tbsp poppy seeds

First, I made the dressing, which can be made days in advance and kept in the fridge.  You will need a food processor or blender to make the dressing.  First combine the sugar, dry mustard, chopped white onion, cider vinegar and 1 Tbsp vegetable oil in the food processor.  Process for 2-3 minutes (I know that seems long, but it needs awhile).

Now add the poppy seeds to the mix and pulse a few times.  Slowly add the 3 cups of vegetable oil while the food processor is running.  Or just pour some in, process for 20 seconds, add more, repeat, and so on until all the oil is incorporated in the dressing.  Pour in an airtight container.  I used mason jars. The dressing will separate over time, so just shake again before using.

Now we can roast the pecans.  In a medium bowl combine the pecans, 2 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp cajun seasoning. Toss with a spoon until the nuts are evenly covered in the spices.  Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes and 375.  Allow to cool before making the salad.  You can also make these a few days in advance.

Right before dressing the salad thinly slice the red onions and drain the mandarin oranges.

To make the salad, in a large bowl, toss together the spinach, pecans, onion, oranges and dressing.  Just don't forget that you can always add more dressing, never remove it.  Therefore, I start with less than I think I will need, toss and then add more if needed.  The mix of flavors is what really gives this salad the wow-factor.  You have the sweet dressing and mandarin oranges with the spicy pecans and a kick from the onions.  I promise this you will make this salad again and again!


Looks good? Made it? Wanna try it? Leave me a Comment...I love them!

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