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Close up side shot of a big bowl of house salad with cranberries and homemade dressing
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5 from 1 vote

House Salad with Candied Pecans

A restaurant-worthy House Salad with greens, candied pecans, dried cranberries, blue cheese and mandarin oranges in a creamy homemade dressing -- and easy enough for any night of the week!
Course Salad, Side, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword green salad, house salad
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 303kcal
Author Blair Lonergan

Ingredients

FOR THE CANDIED PECANS:

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ cups coarsely chopped pecans
  • Kosher salt, to taste

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 1 ½ cups mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

FOR THE SALAD:

  • 3 cups spring mix lettuce
  • ¾ cup sweetened dried cranberries, such as Craisins
  • ¾ cup crumbled blue cheese
  • ¾ cup mandarin oranges, drained
  • cup candied pecans

Instructions

MAKE THE CANDIED PECANS:

  • Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a small saucepan on the stovetop, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat, stir in the pecans; toss to coat. Spread the nuts on a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Toast in the oven for about 8-10 minutes, or until toasty. Keep a close eye on them so that they don’t burn. While still warm, sprinkle the nuts with a little bit of kosher salt to taste. Set aside to cool completely. Once cool, you can store the candied nuts in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a month.

MAKE THE DRESSING:

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, lemon juice, kosher salt, black pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. Add the vinegar and mustard, whisk to combine.
  • Whisk in the oil, one tablespoon at a time, blending well after each addition. The mixture should be thick, but pourable. If it's too thick, gradually whisk in some water until it reaches the desired consistency. Store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

ASSEMBLE THE SALAD:

  • Arrange the lettuce greens on individual salad plates or on a large serving platter. Top with candied pecans, blue cheese, cranberries and oranges. Just before serving, drizzle the dressing over the salad, to taste.

Notes

  • Thinly sliced red onion would be a nice, zesty addition to the salad.
  • Swap out the cranberries for other dried fruit like dried cherries or chopped dates.
  • Instead of mandarin oranges, use fresh berries.
  • Make candied walnuts instead of pecans.
  • If you don't want to make your own candied nuts, you can substitute with toasted pecans or walnuts, or purchase prepared candied pecans at the store.
  • During the holidays, I like to add these spiced pecans (in lieu of the candied pecans).
  • Use feta cheese or goat cheese instead of blue cheese.
  • Any variety of lettuce will work for this salad.
  • Feel free to adjust the quantities of the different ingredients to suit your tastes. I typically just "eyeball" it!
  • A balsamic vinaigrette dressing is also great on this salad if you don't want a creamy dressing. This is my favorite homemade balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Use your favorite store-bought dressing if you don't want to make a homemade dressing. We love this store-bought poppy seed dressing and this sweet blush wine vinaigrette.

Nutrition

Serving: 1salad with about 2 tablespoons dressing | Calories: 303kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 397mg | Potassium: 128mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 535IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 108mg | Iron: 1mg