I wanted a pretty salad with mixed greens for Christmas dinner. I was thinking of a spinach and strawberry salad, but strawberries do not scream winter time. Then I thought of using mixed greens with dried cranberries and the salad started taking shape. I wanted candied nuts on top and finally went with pecans. Next I tossed in a little red onion for color. It turned out to be a very pretty red and green salad, perfect for Christmas.
When I went to make the dressing I knew I wanted a fruity vinaigrette. Most recipes I found called for raspberry or other flavored vinegars. Since I knew a flavored vinegar is not something I would use very often I instead smashed some strawberries and stirred them into red wine vinegar with a little bit of sugar. The dressing goes really well with this salad. It is slightly fruity, a little sweet, and has a bite from the Dijon mustard. Topped off with crumbled cheese this is a beautiful mixed greens salad.
Cranberry Pecan Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette (adapted from Allrecipes)
1 c. pecan halves
2 T. butter
2 T. brown sugar
¾ c. dried cranberries
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
6 c. mixed salad greens
crumbled feta cheese
For the vinaigrette:
2 T. red wine vinegar
½ t. Dijon mustard
1 t. sugar
½ t. salt
½ t. black pepper
4 T. olive oil
1. In a small skillet heat the butter until melted. Add in the pecans and brown sugar and cook 3-5 minutes or until the brown sugar is stuck to the pecans. Remove from heat and put the pecans on waxed paper to cool.
2. In a large salad bowl combine the mixed greens, pecans, cranberries, and onion. Set aside.
3. Mince the strawberries and put into a small bowl. Once in the bowl mash the berries and add in the vinegar. Stir in the mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in the oil until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
4. When ready to serve toss the salad with the dressing and the sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.