Fresh Ideas: Strawberry salad makes elegant summer meal _lowres

Photo by Helana Brigman -- Consider serving Strawberry Spinach Salad With Goat Cheese, Pancetta and Bourbon-Candied Pecans for a light summer meal.

Strawberry Spinach Salad With Goat Cheese, Pancetta and Bourbon-Candied Pecans

Makes 2 salads. Recipe is by Helana Brigman.

Bourbon-Candied Pecans:

1 (8-oz.) bag whole pecans

6 tbls. salted butter

1?3 cup brown sugar

1?3 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tbl. honey

1?3 cup good-quality bourbon


2 cups spinach, washed

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup strawberries, stems removed and halved

2 ozs. semisoft goat cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup Bourbon-Candied Pecans (see recipe)

1 oz. pancetta

Light vinaigrette or balsamic vinegar

1. Prepare pecans: Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a baking sheet with butter. Spread pecans evenly over the surface and toast for 3-5 minutes.

2. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, whisking in brown and white sugar, vanilla, honey and bourbon. Toss toasted pecans in glaze and simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes, or until mixture has reduced by one-fourth and pecans are thickly coated. Turn off heat and cool for 5 minutes.

3. On a clean surface lined with parchment paper, spread pecans in a single, thick layer and somewhat close together. Cool until candied pecans have hardened, break up and serve on salads or as a snack.

4. Prepare salad: Plate spinach, tomatoes, strawberries, goat cheese and Bourbon-Candied Pecans, tossing to combine. In a small nonstick skillet, cook pancetta until crispy. Crumble pancetta and sprinkle over salad. Serve salad with a light vinaigrette or balsamic vinegar.