I love salads. I really do!
They are versatile, and you can basically throw anything on top of lettuce and, voila!, a salad.
This salad, however, is my absolute favorite. You know how when at a restaurant, you scour the menu for a few specific ingredients you like? Well that is me when it comes to ordering a salad.
Give me a salad with goat cheese, nuts and dried fruit and I am in heaven.
I first tried this salad at the wonderful Parkshore Grill on Beach Drive in St. Petersburg and since then, have been in love with the combination of pecans, dried cranberries, and goat cheese.
Of course I had to re-create it and put my own healthy spin on it, as the one from the restaurant has a much heavier dressing and “candied” pecans.
So, to have this gorgeous salad more often, I developed an amazing, creamy vinaigrette, and topped the spring greens with raw pecans rather than sugar-coated ones. As you’ve probably heard, salads can get a bad wrap as people tend to order them trying to be healthy, when in reality, the salad may have more fat and sugar in it than another menu item. Take the Caesar salad for instance- which I love- but a restaurant size can pack up to over 1200 calories!
So when making or ordering a salad, two things are important- portion size and the dressing. I feel the dressing is often the most deceiving…be sure to check labels when at the grocery…
To prove my point…can you guess what item has the following ingredients?
Water, corn syrup, cultured lowfat buttermilk, vinegar, garlic juice, cellulose gel, sugar, salt, skim milk, sour cream, onion, xantham gum, monosodium glutamate with potassium sorbate and calcium disodium EDTA as preservative, lactic-acid, natural flavor, propylene glyrcol alginate, artificial color phosphoric acid….
And the list goes on. So what do ya think? In case you’re not sure…Ranch NONFAT dressing. I don’t know about you, but personally, I prefer only eating things which I actually know what they are.
Pecans- Pecans are heart healthy (very low in saturated fat), rank the highest among all nuts in regards to natural antioxidants, can lower cholesterol, can increase metabolic rates and enhance satiety therefore aiding in weight control.
Dried cranberries- can help prevent urinary tract infections and kidney stones, lower cholesterol and promote gastrointestinal health.
So, make this salad, make this dressing…its simple, HEALTHY, and oh so yum!
Goat Cheese, Cranberry and Pecan Salad
(makes 2 servings)
5 cups Spring green lettuces
¼ cup Dried unsweetened cranberries
¼ cup Raw pecans
¼ cup Goat cheese
For the dressing:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red raspberry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon honey (could substitute stevia)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced shallot
Top spring greens with cranberries, pecans and goat cheese.
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt, pepper and shallots until the vinaigrette creamy. Drizzle over salad, and enjoy!