I’ve been making this salad for family holidays for probably 20 years. But as we get together at different times of the year, I vary up the fruit to match the season. In the summer, it’s all about peaches. At Thanksgiving, I use tart apples, and then a few weeks later at Christmas, I’ll make it with pear and pomegranate seeds. And at Easter, I’ll use fresh strawberries. But the secret to this salad is the caramelized maple pecans (they’re so easy to make, and everyone loves them), the dried figs, and a sprinkling of your favorite artisanal vegan cheese. Toss with the simple dressing, and this stunning salad is always a hit.
What you need:
For the caramelized maple pecans:
- 1 cup raw pecans
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
For the dressing:
- ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
- 3 teaspoons maple syrup
For the salad:
- 2 cups spring mix greens
- 4 fresh or dried figs, sliced and divided
- 2 fresh yellow peaches, sliced and divided
- ¼ cup crumbled artisanal vegan cheese (this is one of my favorites!), divided
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
What you do:
- For the caramelized maple pecans, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add pecans, maple syrup, and salt. Toss together to coat and spread in an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway until maple syrup begins to dry. Let cool completely.
- For the dressing, into a small bowl, whisk balsamic vinegar and maple syrup. Set aside.
- For the salad, into a large bowl, add greens, half the figs, half the peaches, half the cheese, and salt. Pour dressing (as much as desired) over salad and toss gently. Top with figs, peaches, cheese, and ½ cup caramelized pecans (save leftovers for snacking!). Serve immediately.
- >> When making the caramelized maple pecans, I suggest doubling the recipe so you can snack on them all week long. They’re great tossed over oatmeal, granola, an acai bowl, or even baked into cookies!
- >> The finishing touch of crumbled cheese really elevates this salad. Experiment with different ones (here’s the VegNews Guide to Vegan Cheese).
- >> This salad is perfect for bringing to a summer barbeque or party. Prepare all of the components in advance, and then slice the fruit and toss right before serving.