Who wants to candy pecans and cranberries in the middle of summer? If you whip up a batch your house is going to smell like Christmas and in case you didn’t know, it’s June so any visitors might think you are loony if they catch a whiff of the spicy aroma. (but if you keep reading this post you are going to think I’m loony so…it’s all good…)
So why post about candied nuts now? Well because there is this salad I love and instead of croutons, it calls for roasted candied pecans to aid in the crunch. It also has strawberries in it – which are a clear indication of summer. So… candied nuts (winter) and strawberries (summer), two polar opposites as far as cooking for the seasons is concerned. It makes for a hard salad to categorize…winter or summer. The popular Midwest chain restaurant that first introduced this salad to me calls it The California Chicken Salad. They must have done this because of the strawberries. Strawberries = summer and since California is in a perpetual state of summer…they opted for that name. But in my opinion, because of the roasted candied pecans, they could just as easily have called this salad the Alaska Chicken Salad (since Alaska is to winter as California is to summer) but…they didn’t, they chose to focus on the strawberries v. the pecans. (It could also have something to do with the fact that California grows a lot of strawberries)
Hey, I could rename the salad. Why not call it the Australia Chicken Salad (because Australia’s seasons are opposite from where most of my readers are from and the use of the word Australia would leave the meaning of this salad up to artistic interpretation. Yes, I think I’ll call this the Australian Chicken Salad – but then I don’t know if any of these ingredients in this salad have anything to do with Australia, so it might confuse people thinking they are going to get something of the vegemite or barbie variety.
Maybe California Chicken Salad is the right name…Welcome to my stream of consciousness – it’s a nice place to visit.
Roasted Candied Pecans & a Salad
2 1/2 cups raw pecans
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 to 1 1/2 cup craisins (optional)
- Preheat oven 300 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, stir the pecans & craisins (if using) with the beaten egg white.
- In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg & salt. Sprinkle the spices mix over the nuts and stir until evenly coated.
- Spread in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
- Slide parchment paper (with nuts still on it) off the baking sheet and onto a wire rack (or the counter) to cool.
- Break nuts up into a bowl to serve or store at room temperature in an airtight container
You can substitute ½ teaspoon of allspice for the ¼ teaspoon of ginger and nutmeg if desired. These nuts can be eaten plain or served over a salad that is made with the following:
Spring Mix Greens
1 pint sliced strawberries
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 chicken breasts, grilled & chopped
2 cups roasted candied pecans
1 bottle balsamic vinaigrette dressing
Toss it all together and serve.
Source: This salad was inspired by O’Charley’s California Chicken Salad.