This is a salad you can be happy eating for breakfast, it’s that good. And that’s exactly what I did after photographing this beauty this morning.
Of all the Thanksgiving foods I indulged in, this salad was by far the favorite side dish I made. I don’t normally think about salads on Thanksgiving Day, but I’m really glad I did this year.
It’s a super simple combination of ingredients, but together the salad becomes far greater as a sum of its parts. Personally, I think the star of the plate is the sugared pecans. And here’s a good tip… keep a bag of WHOLE pecans in your freezer and if you are in need of a last-minute holiday gift, follow the sugared pecan portion of this recipe, let the whole pecans cool (if they are whole, they will look fancier) and package them up in a holiday-themed cellophane bag with a pretty ribbon. Could not be an easier gift and trust me, these pecans are addicting. So, so good!
The dressing is a combination of olive oil, apple cider, a little onion, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and this Monari Federzoni Apple Glaze. If you aren’t able to find this product, simply substitute an aged balsamic vinegar with a pinch of sugar. And if you are not sure how to cut a whole butternut squash for roasting, visit my post HERE for a visual tutorial. As long as you have a sharp knife, it’s a simple process.
- 1 c. pecan pieces
- 2 T. unsalted butter
- 1/4 c. sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 whole butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes
- 1 T. vegetable oil
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 c. sweet onion, finely minced
- 2 T. apple cider
- 1 T. Monari Federzoni Apple Glaze (or sub aged balsamic vinegar with a pinch of sugar)
- 1 t. Dijon mustard
- 1/4 t. salt
- cracked black pepper
- 1 (5 oz.) clamshell container spring lettuce mixture
- 3/4 c. dried cherries
- 3/4 c. crumbled goat cheese
- To make the pecans, toast the nuts in a dry, non-stick skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 8 minutes. Watching and stirring so as not to burn. Remove nuts from skillet and add butter and sugar. Melt the butter and sugar over medium heat. Once melted, add the pre-toasted pecans to the pan and stir to coat, allowing to cook for 2 – 4 minutes, or until the sugar is adhering to the nuts. Spread the sugared nuts evenly on a flat piece of parchment paper or on a silicone baking mat. Sprinkle the nuts lightly with salt and allow to cool completely.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss the cubed squash with the vegetable oil and pinch of salt. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and roast on center rack for 20 minutes, Allow to cool before using to top the salad. Squash can be kept in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for several days before ready to serve.
- For the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, onion, apple cider, apple glaze, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
- Toss the salad greens with the dressing and top with the roasted squash, sugared pecans, dried cherries and goat cheese.