Spicy pecan praline, dried cranberries and aged Gouda bring unique taste and texture to this arugula salad. Photo by: Sara Moulton via AP
March 7, 2018 10:56:09 AM
Here's a salad fit to join the lineup for your fanciest dinner or holiday meal. Each of the ingredients brings its own unique taste and texture to the mix, but the standout is the praline. A hard candy typically consisting of sugar and nuts, praline was invented in the 17th century by the French (which is why it's pronounced "prah leen," not "pray line"). Here in America all these years later, there are two distinct versions of praline -- the New Orleans version and the version made everywhere else. This recipe uses the non-New Orleans type.
At the heart of the praline is its caramel, which is nothing more or less than sugar cooked until it turns golden. The challenge is how to cook it. Typically, we're advised to combine sugar and water in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves. The process requires using a brush dipped in water to wash any sugar stuck to the sides of the pan into the mixture on the bottom. Doing so is meant to prevent the mixture from crystalizing and becoming cloudy and soft when you want it to end up clear and hard. My best efforts notwithstanding, I've found that the sugar often crystalizes anyway.
The Brits have figured out a better to make caramel (aka burnt sugar): put the sugar in a dry pan over medium heat until it melts, then continue cooking until it becomes golden. Simple and foolproof. If you're a caramel maker, or you want to be one, this is the best method for you.
As for the other ingredients, you're welcome to swap in different greens, dried fruits or cheeses. And if you're no fan of pecans, substitute walnuts, pistachios or even peanuts. Whatever the combo, the praline will put it over the top.
ARUGULA SALAD WITH SPICY PECAN PRALINE, DRIED CRANBERRIES AND AGED GOUDA
Start to finish: 35 minutes
For the praline:
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
1/4 cup sugar
For the dressing:
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
For the salad:
8 cups loosely packed arugula
3/4 cup coarsely grated aged gouda
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Make the salad: In a large bowl combine the arugula, gouda, cranberries and praline. Add the dressing and toss well.
Nutritional information per serving: 245 calories; 168 calories from fat; 19 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 14 mg cholesterol; 275 mg sodium; 17 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 15 g sugar; 5 g protein.