Recipe adapted from “Roux To Do” The Art of Cooking in Southeast Louisiana
FOR THE BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons honey
3 garlic cloves, pressed
3 green onions, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
FOR THE SWEET SPICY PECANS:
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup pecan halves
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
FOR THE SALAD:
8 ounces spring mix greens
1 head red leaf lettuce, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
2 small avocados, sliced (my addition)
2 cans (11 ounces each) mandarin oranges, drained
1 pint strawberries, sliced
TO PREPARE THE VINAIGRETTE:
Whisk the balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, garlic, green onions, salt and pepper in a 2-cup measure until blended. Whisk in enough olive oil gradually to make 2 cups. Chill, covered, until ready to serve.
TO PREPARE THE PECANS:
Microwave the water in a small microwave-safe glass bowl until the water boils. Add 1/4 cup sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the pecans. Soak for 15 minutes; drain. Combine 3 tablespoons sugar, the chili powder and red pepper in a sealable plastic bag. Add the pecans and shake to coat. Arrange in a single layer on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, stirring once.
TO PREPARE THE SALAD:
Toss the spring mix greens, red leaf lettuce, cheese and balsamic vinaigrette in a large salad bowl. Add the mandarin oranges, avocado slices and strawberries and toss gently. Sprinkle with the sweet spicy pecans just before serving.
While I was in charge of things in the kitchen, I left Sarah, and her creative eye, to decorating the dining room. She did an absolutely stunning job of displaying the cupcakes on various candle holders while highlighting some of my mom’s favorite flowers (hydrangeas and orchids).
The table was equally gorgeous. She playfully set the table using antique Franciscan Madeira glassware, new French countryside salad plates from Williams & Sonoma, and classic white china. The centerpiece was a bouquet of summer flowers given to my mom earlier that day by Lance. Everything came together perfectly – mixing festivity with elegance.