There are things about blogging I didn’t expect.
I truly love sharing my life (ups AND downs). I get a new perspective on myself and my world when I put my thoughts into words. I didn’t expect The Usual Bliss to become such a part of me- this hobby is something I’ve looked forward to nearly daily for about 15 months now. People read it. People follow it. People comment. People share support. I’ve made friends through common feelings or experiences shared here. The community within Blog Land was something I wasn’t aware of and it’s my favorite part about it.
I got an email this week from a reader. It’s not often that someone will actually take the time to make that personal connection, outside from the “comments” section, so it was a happy surprise to get Callie’s note. She reached out to simply thank me for writing: “Reading (The Usual Bliss) provides a little hit of sunshine at the end of each day.” If those kind words weren’t enough, she went on to share a bit about her (dreamy) life in Nelson, British Columbia. Our interests are similar, and I can tell that if we lived near each other, we’d hang out for sure. And the best part of the note? She shared a recipe!
It’s a simple summer salad, with fabulous things like feta cheese and sliced strawberries. There’s a homemade dressing that looked interesting. It also includes my favorite salad addition: caramelized pecans. I printed the recipe out immediately. Saturday night, our dining room table would be full of friends, so I made Callie’s salad.
I started with the nuts. Caramelized nuts are so delicious in salads. I dig through the greens to eat them first. Every last one. But have never been able to get them right at home. I followed Callie’s instructions, starting by toasting the pecans over the stove. When they’d browned slightly, I poured them into a little bowl with some butter, stirring to be sure the nuts were coated.
Next, I sprinkled in some sugar, then poured the sweetened buttery nuts right back into the pan and let them caramelize. That’s it!
I let these little beauties cool, then stored them in a jar until salad time.
Next, I made the dressing. There are a couple of Asian ingredients, like soy sauce and sesame oil. But I started with sweet maple syrup. Yum!
My little leftover jam jar is the perfect size for the amount of dressing this recipe makes. The last addition was fresh minced garlic. I gave the jar a good shake. Done!
For the salad itself, I used quite a bit of homegrown romaine lettuce but added in some peppery arugula, too. I topped it with sliced strawberries, a generous sprinkling of feta cheese, and those candied pecan miracles. This is a GORGEOUS salad!
Not surprisingly, the pecans were my favorite part. Next time, I’ll use more butter and sugar and leave the nuts to caramelize a bit longer. Delectable. And the dressing? The sweetness of the maple syrup is balanced with the nuttiness of the sesame oil, and the soy sauce brought a salty tang. Delicious. I added an extra clove of garlic and a little salt to Callie’s recipe, and I think I’ll use goat cheese instead of feta next time. Goat cheese + strawberries = YUM.
The salad was a hit. It was the perfect accompaniment to our burgers and roasted potatoes. The salad disappeared quickly- in fact, John didn’t get any! Luckily, I’ve got some of the fantastic dressing left. I’ll slice up some strawberries and make another batch of Callie’s salad. But I’ll have to make more sweet pecans.I ate them all.
Every last one.
Callie’s Summer Salad
- 12 cups mixed greens
- 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese, feta or gorgonzola
- 3/4 cup pecans or walnuts, caramelized
- 1 cup fresh strawberry slices
For the dressing:
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/2 cup olive oil
Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a jelly jar with a lid. Shake well.
Place mixed greens in a large bowl. Top with cheese, strawberries, and nuts.
To caramelize the nuts, toast them in a pan until they just begin to brown. Then toss the nuts with enough butter to lightly coat them, sprinkle with about 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt and toss again. Return the nuts to frying pan for a just a few minutes, being careful not to burn them. Let cool and add them to the salad.
Toss with the dressing and serve. Save some caramelized nuts for me. YUM!
**I’d LOVE to try your favorite recipe! My contact info is HERE.**
More kitchen adventures can be found on the FOOD BLISS link above!
My favourite trick for caramelizing pecans is maple syrup. A little butter in the pan, toss in some pecans and drizzle in just enough syrup to coat, cooking it until the syrup thickens up. Mmmmm…
Great tip! I’ll try that, too!
I die for sticky-sweet pecans.
SERIOUSLY. So good! I need to perfect them!
Every great Canadian recipe begins with maple syrup 🙂