Prepare Pecans: Preheat oven to 350°. Toss pecans in butter. Stir together sugar and next 4 ingredients in a bowl; add pecans, tossing to coat. Spread in a single layer in a nonstick aluminum foil-lined pan. Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until lightly browned and toasted. Cool in pan on a wire rack 20 minutes; separate pecans with a fork.
Prepare Vinaigrette: Whisk together cider vinegar and next 4 ingredients. Gradually whisk in oil until well blended.
Prepare Salad: Combine spinach and next 3 ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle with desired amount of Maple-Cider Vinaigrette; toss to coat. Sprinkle with pecans. Serve salad with any remaining vinaigrette.
Note: Pecans may be made up to 1 week ahead. Store in an airtight container. Vinaigrette may be made up to 3 days ahead. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
Made this salad recipe for book club, and people asked for seconds. Excellent year-round salad option, with light but flavorful dressing. The candied/baked pecans add a flavorful touch, not too much curry or ginger, but a nice complexity of spices balancing the base ingredients. I added a little blue cheese to the cheese mix, rather than just goat cheese, which I would do again. Great do-ahead salad, baking pecans and mixing dressing in advance and just tossing before serving. Quick, easy yet sophisticated enough to take to a dinner party.
This recipe has already become a favorite. The nuts are a great snack on their own and the dressing could complement many salads. Use a good quality apple cider vinegar and you won't be disappointed. A really great, simple, and versatile recipe.
Great tasting salad! The Pecans really make it, and I made an adjustment and used a little less dressing, so it wouldn't be soggy! Glad I did. I also used a little more syrup and mustard to tone down the vinegar. Very tasty, a keeper!
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