Warm Pasta Salad with Pecans and Spinach

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Yield: 4 Servings

8 ounces rigatoni pasta
¼ cup Italian or Greek dressing
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup sweet onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
5 ounces baby spinach
1 cup ricotta cheese
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup toasted pecans

Cook pasta in 2 quarts boiling, salted water until al dente, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer pasta to large bowl and toss with dressing. Keep warm.

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions 3 to 4 minutes until they begin to become translucent. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute longer, stirring constantly.

Add spinach to skillet and sauté until just beginning to wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Combine with pasta and mix in ricotta cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Top with toasted pecans.
Chicken Salad with Roasted Tomatoes

Yield: 2 Servings

½ cup pecans, finely chopped and toasted
½ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons butter
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ pound cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 cups mixed greens
Red onion slices
Cucumber slices
2 ounces blue cheese
Ranch or balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix together pecans, panko, salt, cayenne and black pepper.

Melt butter and oil in ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge chicken in pecan panko mixture. Sauté in skillet until brown on bottom – about 2 minutes. Turn chicken over and place skillet in oven. Bake 15 to 18 minutes until cooked through. Set aside. Slice when cool.

Lower oven temperature to 350°F. Arrange tomatoes on baking sheet and toss with olive oil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

To assemble, divide greens between two plates. Arrange red onion, cucumber, roasted tomatoes and chicken over greens. Top with blue cheese, if desired. Serve with ranch dressing or balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
Romaine, Pecan and Pear Salad

Yield: 6 Servings

6 cups Romaine lettuce, washed and torn
1 cup radicchio, washed and torn
¼ cup parsley, chopped
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 Bosc pears, thinly sliced
1 cup pecans
¾ cup dried cherries
¼ cup raspberry or red wine vinaigrette dressing
? cup feta cheese, optional

Place Romaine, radicchio, parsley and shallots in large bowl and toss gently. Arrange pears, pecans and dried cherries on greens.

Pour dressing over salad and toss. Top with feta cheese, if desired.

Dressing may be passed separately.
Salmon Nicoise Salad

Yield: 2 Servings

8 ounce salmon filet
2 teaspoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 lemons
6 small red new potatoes
1 cup fresh green beans
3 hard cooked eggs, peeled and sliced
1 cup pecans
? cup Nicoise olives
2 tablespoons capers
½ cup cherry tomatoes
Watercress for garnish
¼ cup red wine vinaigrette or blue cheese dressing

Prepare coals in barbeque (or gas) grill. Brush salmon with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Cut lemons in half. Grill salmon, skin side down until just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Place lemons on grill with salmon, cut side down and grill until beginning to brown. Remove lemons and salmon from grill and set aside.

Cut potatoes in half and steam until tender, about 15 minutes. Chill until ready to use. Steam green beans until just tender. Chill until ready to use.

To assemble salad, arrange lemons, potatoes, green beans, sliced eggs, and pecans. Add olives, capers and tomatoes around salmon. Serve with dressing of choice.
Asian Duck Salad with Watercress and Pecans

If duck breast is unavailable, try boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which have a similar rich dark meat. For a lighter course, the watercress and pecan salad, seasoned with a sweet and tangy gingery dressing, is delicious all by itself.

Serves 4
Ginger Dressing:
¼ cup light olive oil or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 small cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 skinless duck breasts, 4 oz. each (or substitute chicken or turkey)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 bunch (6 oz.) watercress
1 large carrot, peeled
¾ cup toasted pecan halves
2 tablespoons minced radish, red part only (optional)

Prepare Dressing: In a blender or small food processor, combine all Ginger Dressing ingredients; mix until garlic is very finely chopped and ingredients are well blended. Set aside while preparing salad.

Heat the 2 teaspoons oil in medium skillet over high heat. Sprinkle duck breasts with salt. When oil is hot but not yet smoking, add duck. Reduce heat to medium high and cook until well browned—about 5 minutes; turn duck breasts and cook until browned on other side but pink in the middle—about 4 to 5 minutes longer. Transfer duck to cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove and discard tough stems from watercress. Cut carrot into thin matchstick-size sticks and combine with watercress. Toss salad mixture with half the Ginger Dressing. Mix remaining dressing with the pecans.

To serve, thinly slice duck and divide among four serving plates, fanning slices. Arrange watercress mixture in a small mound on each plate and spoon pecans on top. If desired, sprinkle with radish to garnish.

Nutrition information per serving: protein: 13g; fat: 17g; saturated fat: 3g; carbohydrate: 8g; fiber: 2g; sodium: 424mg; cholesterol: 44mg; calories: 234.
Courtesy: Georgia Pecan Commission
Roasted Vegetable and Pecan Salad

Serves 4

2 medium zucchini
2 medium summer squash
1 red onion
4 plum tomatoes
3/4 cup chopped pecans
4 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
2 to 3 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar
4 cups mixed salad greens
24 pecan halves
Parmesan cheese shavings (optional)

Heat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil two baking sheets. Cut zucchini and summer squash lengthwise in half, then cut each half crosswise into large chunks (about 1 1/2-inch thick). In medium bowl, toss zucchini and squash with chopped pecans, 2 teaspoons olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread mixture in a single layer on one baking sheet. Set aside.

Cut red onion into 1-inch thick wedges and place in same bowl. Cut tomatoes lengthwise into quarters and add to onion. Toss onion and tomatoes with remaining 2 teaspoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread mixture in a single layer on second baking sheet.

Roast all vegetables 5 minutes. Turn vegetables and pecans and roast 4 to 5 minutes longer or until most of the vegetables are just tender and lightly browned-do not overcook. Combine all the vegetables and chopped pecans in a large bowl, sprinkle with vinegar and gently stir.

To serve, divide salad greens among plates. Top each with a mixture of vegetables and chopped pecans. Pour any liquid in bowl over vegetables. Garnish each serving with 3 pecan halves and, if desired, Parmesan cheese.

Nutrition information per serving (without Parmesan)-237 calories; 5g protein; 17g carbohydrates; 5g fiber; 17g fat; 1g saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 291mg sodium.
Courtesy: Georgia Pecan Commission
Asparagus and Roasted Pepper Salad with Toasted Pecans

A generous sprinkle of Georgia pecans gives this vegetable-rich salad a hearty crunch and more complex flavor-without any fuss.

Serves 4

20 thin asparagus spears
12 oz. jar roasted peppers, preferably red and yellow mixed, drained
2/3 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sherry or wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 lb. mixed salad greens

Break off tough ends of asparagus. Heat 1 inch of water to boiling in a deep skillet. Add asparagus and cook two minutes to blanch. Drain and transfer asparagus to bowl of ice water to quickly chill. Drain and set aside or wrap and refrigerate until serving.

In a medium bowl, stir together peppers, pecans, and basil. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, and salt to blend; whisk in oil to make dressing. To serve, mound salad greens in center of serving platter; arrange asparagus in two clusters on opposite sides of greens. Spoon pecan mixture over greens and asparagus; drizzle dressing over all.

Nutrition information per serving-protein: 6g; fat: 25 g; saturated fat: 3g; carbohydrate: 19g; fiber: 6g; sodium: 263 mg; cholesterol: 0; calories: 324.
Courtesy: Georgia Pecan Commission
Pecan Spring Salad

Makes 6 servings
Preparation Time: 15 minutes

6 cups green salad
1-1/2 cups canned mandarin oranges, drained
1-1/2 cups pecans, chopped
6 green onions, chopped
7 ounces Feta cheese
8 tablespoons vinaigrette dressing (can be flavored such as raspberry)

Mix together all ingredients except vinaigrette. Add vinaigrette just before serving.
Spinach and Pecan Salad with Lemon Dressing

Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes

1 lb fresh spinach, cleaned and trimmed
1-1/2 cups of pecans, chopped (may also use pecan halves)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 lemon rind, grated
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons sour cream
½ cup oil

Blend all ingredients except spinach for 15 seconds. Toss with spinach and serve.
Mediterranean Chicken-Pecan Salad

5 medium-sized tomatoes (about 1 lb., cut into thin wedges)
½ c. fresh basil (chopped)
1 T. olive oil
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 large garlic clove (minced)
3 c. saffron-flavored rice (cooked)
3 chicken breast halves (roasted or grilled, cut into strips)
½ c. plus 1 T. pecan pieces or halves (toasted)
2 c. mixed salad greens

In a bowl, combine tomatoes, basil, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. Marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes. Add cooked rice and cooked chicken strips to bowl and stir. Fold in ½ cup of pecans. Spoon salad into center of serving plates and surround with greens. Scatter remaining pecans over top of each salad.
Courtesy: Georgia Pecan Commission
Tossed Salad with Pecan Basil Vinaigrette Dressing

½ c. fresh basil (chopped)
¼ c. fresh lemon juice
¼ c. olive oil
¼ c. vegetable oil
1/3 c. pecans (chopped)
Salt and pepper to taste
Sliced tomatoes and/or salad greens

In a bowl, combine basil and lemon juice. Whisk in oils and season with salt and pepper to taste. At the last minute, fold in pecans. Serve drizzled over sliced tomatoes and/or salad greens.
Courtesy: Georgia Pecan Commission
Fruited Barley Salad with Georgia Pecans, Granola Croutons and Maple Yogurt Dressing

For convenience, the barley can be made the night before and refrigerated, leaving just a few quick steps to make this healthy salad ready for a morning meal.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Makes 6 servings
2 cups water
1 cup quick-cooking barley
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 (1.23-ounce) granola bars
2/3 cup Georgia pecan halves
1/2 cup plain low fat yogurt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cups chopped mixed fresh fruits – Recommend kiwi, strawberries and blueberries
Ground cinnamon
*Add ground cinnamon to yogurt topping to taste (optional)

In medium-size pot, heat water to boiling. Add barley and salt, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, uncovered, 5 minutes. Spread barley on baking sheet to cool completely.

Meanwhile, cut granola bars into small crouton-like cubes; set aside. Toast pecan halves in skillet or oven until toasted, crisped, and fragrant; set aside. Combine yogurt and maple syrup, mixing until blended; set aside.

When barley has cooled, transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the granola pieces, pecan halves, and fruit mixture, tossing gently. To serve, spoon salad onto individual plates. Serve with yogurt dressing and a shaker of ground cinnamon to sprinkle as desired.

Nutrition information per serving (using 1/2 cup each strawberries, kiwi, and blueberries) – calories: 251; protein: 4g; carbs: 37g; saturated fat: 1g; monounsaturated: 5g; polyunsaturated fat: 3g; cholesterol: 1 mg; fiber: 5g; sodium: 224 mg

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