Ok, so the candied pecans bit is not typical Caribbean, but with the wide selection of dining options you now have on the islands, I bet you can find this on the menu in several restaurants throughout the Caribbean. We were over at our friend’s place for dinner a couple weekends ago and they served this with grilled pork tenderloin that was marinated in a Teriyaki sauce and it was a hit, so I thought I’d share it with you all. As a true blooded Caribbean fella, I just had to add the slices of mango, instead of pears that they used.
For The Salad:
6-8 cups of assorted salad greens
3/4 cup candied pecans
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 semi-ripe mango cut into strips
*crumbled blue cheese – optional
To Candy The Pecans:
1 cup pecans halves
1/4 cup brown sugar (I used golden brown)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
* cookie sheet lined with parchment paper to cool candied pecans
For The Salad Dressing:
2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
3 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Start off by getting the pecans ready as they will take about 30 minutes to cool. In a saucepan on medium heat add the sugar, oil and balsamic vinegar and whisk around for about 3 minutes until you start seeing bubbles. Now add the pecans and stir around. Allow them to fully coat and toast – about 4-5 minutes. You should have a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil ready for cooling the pecans. Empty the now candied pecans onto the cookie sheet and using two forks, separate them. Allow this cool. I used halved pecans, but Caron mentioned that had I used pecan pieces I could allow them to cluster and they would work better in the salad. If you’re wondering if you can store this, the answer is yes. Place in an airtight container.
Now for the dressing. Combine everything in a small bowl and give it a good whisk just before you’re ready to serve the salad. The acid in the dressing will wilt the greens if it’s sitting for too long, so it’s important that you serve immediately after putting this together – it will not store well. So if you plan on eating this later on, only dress the portion you’ll be using now and do the same later on.
The salad is simply combining everything. Wash and dry your greens (use a salad spinner to get all the liquid out or paper towels) and place in a large bowl. Add the pecans, slices of mango (BTW try to get a mango that’s not fully ripe, as the tartness will work well with this combination – PLUS it will hold it’s shape better than a fully ripe mango), dried cranberries and dress with the dressing we made earlier. NOTE: Add a little dressing at a time as it’s very easy to over-dress.
Before my vegetarian friends get all mad with me for posting this in the vegetarian section and there’s a massive piece of bbq chicken on the plate, accept my apologies and focus on the salad recipe only
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* If I had slices of fresh pineapple I would surely add it to this salad as well.
Do you ever wonder how things get their name? I remember my mom had a kitchen garden at the back of our house, where she’d grow things that usually ended up on our plate.. Things like herbs, peppers, tomato, eggplant, ground provisions etc. One of the peppers she grew was called “bird” pepper, which is known as Thai chili or Tabasco peppers here in north America. Why “bird”? not sure, but as a kid I do remember when the trees were laden with those bright red peppers, we’d see birds coming to feed on them. You’d also find these pepper trees in the most out-of-place spots. Simply because the birds would feed, digest and then wherever their dropping fell.. there was the chance that a tree would grow there.
Here’s a salad I started making a few years back to satisfy my taste for something fresh and spicy!
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
2 medium ripe tomatoes (cut in wedges)
1/4 red onion (sliced thin)
1 leaf of shadow beni (optional) (sliced thin)
1/2 seedless (English)cucumber (about 6 inches) Sliced thin with skin on.
dash of black pepper (fresh cracked is best)
3-5 chili peppers (Thai, Tabasco or bird)
To control the heat of the pepper, you can cut them down the center, then using a spoon scrape off the seeds. I love the heat so all I do is slice the peppers, including the seeds. Wash and slice the tomatoes into wedges. If you have an English cucumber, wash and slice.. if you have a common cucumber all you have to do is cut it down the center and using a spoon, scrape the seeds out. Slice the red onion into very thin slices.
In a bowl, combine the pepper, vegetables, olive oil, black pepper. I don’t add salt to my version of this salad, but that’s because I don’t eat a lot of salt and your taste may be different. Add accordingly. If you do have shadow beni or cilantro you can add it at this point as well. I also have to say that I’ve seen people add red wine or balsamic vinegar, but like salt I don’t care for vinegar.
Do show some respect for the bird peppers, as they will have a bite to them!