Healthy Fall Salad With Cranberries + Pecans

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Just in time for the holidays! Try this crowd-pleasing fall salad for holiday gatherings or just for a delicious weeknight side salad. Read on for the recipe and a quick way to turn this into a main dish.
A couple of years ago, I posted one of my favorite go-to fall and winter side dishes, Healthy Holiday Side Dish: Wild Rice + Pecans + Cranberries. I make it for get-togethers and holiday gatherings because it's easy, healthy, and a crowd pleaser. However, one of the main reasons I like it is because big holiday meals tend to be heavy, dense, and calorie-heavy. In an effort to not feel like I ate rocks at a family gathering, I decided to bring my rice dish and a salad. When making a salad that day, I realized that I could pretty much use the same toppings as the rice dish: toasted pecans, dried cranberries, and chopped green onions. Voila! Thus, the idea of this salad was born, and it, too, is always a hit.A Few Recipe Notes:

• Try this salad out on it's own, or pull up the Wild Rice Recipe and make them both — they use a lot of the same ingredients and you can measure the ingredients out and toast the pecans at the same time. Notes will be made along the way (in this post) to help you if you're making both recipes, but you'll still need to pull up the Wild Rice Recipe.

• I use a homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette here. If you are in the habit of whisking up your own, you'll notice that I don't sweeten mine at all (many recipes use honey), and that's because of the dried cranberries in the salad. I don't think it needs anymore sweetness, so I omit that.

• I wrote this up considering the 5 oz size box of salad. If you're making this for a large crowd, buy the even bigger box and double the rest of the ingredients for it. You'll just have to keep track of the pecans, chopped green onions, and cranberries if you're doubling the recipe and also making enough for the Wild Rice Recipe.

• Love this recipe? Buy a rotisserie chicken and add chicken to make this a main dish on a busy weeknight.

Healthy&Festive Fall Salad

Serves approximately 6 as a side saladSalad:
1 box Spring Mix Salad, the 5 oz size box
1/2 cup plain Pecans
1/2 cup Craisins (I prefer the 50% Less Sugar Bag)
1 stalk Green Onion, chopped
1/2 cup grated or shaved Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper, to taste

**IF you're also making the Wild Rice Recipe: measure out an additional 1/2 cup plain pecans, 1/2 cup Craisins, and 1 extra stalk green onion, chopped. You can measure them out separately, or just remember to put aside 1/2 cup pecans, 1/2 cup Craisins, and 1 stalk green onions for the Wild Rice Recipe.

* This should be plenty even if you're doubling the salad amount. 

1/2 cup good quality Olive Oil of your choice
1/4 cup good quality Balsamic Vinegar of your choice
1 clove Garlic, pressed
Salt and Pepper, to taste

​• Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.• Combine all dressing ingredients together in a small bowl, to give the flavors time to marinate together. Whisk it well. Taste and tinker with the salt and pepper.

• Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the pecans on this and roast for a total of about 8 minutes, stirring or shaking half way through. You'll want them slightly browned and aromatic. Take them out before they scorch or they'll be ruined. Let them cool, and then break them into pieces with your hands. Chopping them can just get messy.

• If you're making the rice dish as well, go ahead and get that rolling. If not, skip this step.• Place the spring mix salad in a large bowl, with enough room for tossing.

• ​*If you're prepping this in advance, feel free to go ahead and add the green onions and dried cranberries, but wait to add the pecans, dressing, and parmesan cheese until right before serving so that the salad doesn't get soggy.

• Otherwise, add the cooled pecans, dried cranberries, chopped green onions, and toss until well distributed.

• Then, just before serving, drizzle a small amount of the dressing and toss until it, too, is well distributed. You can always add more, but start small so that the salad doesn't get saturated. Stop when everything is just barely coated, even if you have some dressing left over.  (If so, save it and use it on another salad soon!)

​• Top with fresh cracked pepper and the parmesan cheese.​• Serve immediately and EAT!

Love + Light.
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