Cranberry Pecan Salads
In September 2012, I trekked 25 miles to Valley Natural Foods in Burnsville, MN to get some gluten-free flour. While there, I discovered what a great selection of gluten-free and dairy-free items they have, including items in the deli counter (clearly labeled as GF and DF!). Needless to say, I came home with much more than my GF Superfine Brown Rice Flour. Two of the deli salads were particularly yummy—Cranberry Chicken Salad and Raw Squash Salad with Craisins and Pecans. Tonight I made a variation of my own, Spaghetti Squash with Craisins and Pecans, though at the last minute mine became a hot dish rather than a salad. So here are three variations on the “Salad/Side-dish with Cranberries and Pecans,” beginning with the dish I made tonight, followed by my the Valley Foods dishes.
Spaghetti Squash with Craisins and Pecans
- 1/2 spaghetti squash, seeded & baked (see note below on spaghetti squash)
- 1 rib celery, diced
- 1 scallion, finely sliced
- 1/3 cup craisins
- 1/3 cup pecans
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- dash of paprika
- salt & pepper to taste
Using a fork, remove the flesh from the squash. (As the name implies, it will come out in spaghetti-like strands, you may wish to cut them into smaller, bite-sized pieces.) In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients. Toss together. Enjoy!
- I used leftover spaghetti squash baked as I bake most squash: cut in half lengthwise, remove seeds and pulp (but not the “flesh”) of the squash, spray the raw side lightly with oil, place raw side down on a baking sheet. In a 375°F oven, bake for 45-60 minutes (or until fork tender), remove, allow to cool. Enjoy!
- Tonight I decided I wanted this dish hot, rather than cold. I tossed together the ingredients without the craisins and pecans, heated the squash mixture in a bit of oil in a medium sauté pan until the spices were fragrant, then added the craisins and pecans, tossed and ate with rice.
- I can think of many variations on this dish: add a diced apple, change out the curry powder for “poultry seasoning” (a mixture of sage, rosemary, thyme, and marjoram), etc. The curry powder and the texture of the squash actually made this dish taste like “Singapore noodles,” so I can imagine swapping the cranberries and pecans for carrots, bean sprouts and bok choy. The possibilities are endless!!
Raw Squash Salad with Craisins and Pecans
- 3/4 C. chopped pecans
- 2-1/2 lbs. finely shredded raw butternut squash (peeled and seeded first)
- 1 C. finely diced yellow onion
- 2 C. craisins (dried cranberries)
- 1/3 C. freshly chopped cilantro
- 1-1/2 Tbsp. ground coriander
- 1-1/2 Tbsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 Tbsp. sea salt, or to taste
Place pecans in a bowl and cover with water. Allow pecans to soak at room temperature for 1 hour. Shred squash in food processor fitted with fine shredding blade, or shred by hand with grater (should appear small and “rice” like). Drain water off pecans and combine with squash and remaining ingredients. Toss well and chill before serving.
Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad
(I couldn’t find the actual Valley Natural Foods recipe for this salad, so I used the ingredients list from the deli container and adapted a recipe found at http://www.annies-eats.com/2009/07/15/cranberry-pecan-chicken-salad/ )
- 4 cups of cubed cooked chicken
- 1 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
- 1 rib celery, finely diced
- 2-4 tbsp. finely minced shallot or scallion
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp. minced flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl. Mix well until thoroughly combined. Adjust seasonings to taste. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or more to allow flavors to meld. Serve.
Enjoy these recipes! Have fun with them and report and interesting variations in the comments.