Spinach, Kale, and Cherry Salad
Erin Kunkel
Yields 12 Servings
AuthorMary Heffernan

“Here’s a salad that’s as festive as my parents’ house during the holidays,” says Mary Heffernan, of Five Marys Ranch near Mount Shasta. “With sweet cherries, spicy pecans, piquant blue cheese, and plenty of greens, it’s sort of a party in a bowl—and it holds up well, already dressed, on the table, which is always a plus during a long holiday dinner.”

How to Make It

1

To make the candied pecans: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set a wire rack (the gridded kind) on top, and set aside.

2

In a medium saucepan, combine
 1⁄2 cup sugar with the water and mash with a fork until the sugar is fully moistened. Place the pan over high heat and cook until the sugar dissolves and turns a rich amber color, swirling the pan occasionally but resisting the temptation to stir. (It will take 5–7 minutes, but don’t rush it. You want a beautiful deep brown color.) Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the butter, then stir until it melts. Add the pecans, stir to coat completely, and spread them on the wire rack.

3

In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar with the salt, cinnamon, and cayenne to taste. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the pecans and let cool completely.

4

To make the vinaigrette: In a blender, blend 1 cup of the olive oil, vinegar, Dijon, maple syrup, salt, and pepper until smooth. Season to taste with additional oil (if the dressing is too sharp for you), salt, and pepper, and set aside.

5

To make the Spiced Pickled Red Onions: Halve and thinly slice the red onion pole to pole, break apart the pieces, and stuff them all into a 4-cup mason jar or similar container. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, and mustard powder, and bring to a boil, whisking to dissolve the sugar and salt. Carefully pour the mixture over the onions, press any that are sticking out down into the liquid, and cover. Let cool to room temperature, then use immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.


6

To assemble the salad: Pile the spinach and kale into a large serving bowl and top with the pecans, onions, cherries, and cheese. Dress the salad to taste with the vinaigrette, toss well, and serve. Store any unused vinaigrette in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 1 week.

Ingredients

FOR THE CANDIED PECANS
 ½ cup plus 1 tbsp. sugar, divided
 2 tbsp water
 4 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
 2 cups pecans, halved
 ¾ tsp kosher salt
 ¼ tsp cinnamon, ground
 1/8 to 1⁄4 tsp. cayenne
FOR THE VINAIGRETTE
 1 to 1 1/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil
 ½ cup red wine vinegar
 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
 1 tbsp good-quality maple syrup
 ½ tsp kosher salt
 ¼ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
FOR THE SPICED PICKLED RED ONIONS (MAKES 1 QT.)
 1 large red onion
 1 cup white vinegar
 1 cup water
 1 tbsp sugar
 1 tbsp kosher salt
 1 ½ tsp red pepper flakes
 1 ½ tsp mustard powder
FOR THE SALAD
 5 oz baby spinach (about 4 lightly packed cups)
 6 packed cups curly green or red kale (from 1 medium bunch or about 3⁄4 lb.), stems removed and chopped
 1 cup Spiced Pickled Red Onions (ingredients above; recipe at right)
 1 cup dried tart or sour cherries
 4 oz blue cheese or gorgonzola, crumbled

Directions

1

To make the candied pecans: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set a wire rack (the gridded kind) on top, and set aside.

2

In a medium saucepan, combine
 1⁄2 cup sugar with the water and mash with a fork until the sugar is fully moistened. Place the pan over high heat and cook until the sugar dissolves and turns a rich amber color, swirling the pan occasionally but resisting the temptation to stir. (It will take 5–7 minutes, but don’t rush it. You want a beautiful deep brown color.) Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the butter, then stir until it melts. Add the pecans, stir to coat completely, and spread them on the wire rack.

3

In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar with the salt, cinnamon, and cayenne to taste. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the pecans and let cool completely.

4

To make the vinaigrette: In a blender, blend 1 cup of the olive oil, vinegar, Dijon, maple syrup, salt, and pepper until smooth. Season to taste with additional oil (if the dressing is too sharp for you), salt, and pepper, and set aside.

5

To make the Spiced Pickled Red Onions: Halve and thinly slice the red onion pole to pole, break apart the pieces, and stuff them all into a 4-cup mason jar or similar container. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, and mustard powder, and bring to a boil, whisking to dissolve the sugar and salt. Carefully pour the mixture over the onions, press any that are sticking out down into the liquid, and cover. Let cool to room temperature, then use immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.


6

To assemble the salad: Pile the spinach and kale into a large serving bowl and top with the pecans, onions, cherries, and cheese. Dress the salad to taste with the vinaigrette, toss well, and serve. Store any unused vinaigrette in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 1 week.

Spinach, Kale, and Dried Cherry Salad

Search All of Sunset's Recipes