How did you come by this recipe? “Forever ago, my sister sent it in an email along with one for a butternut squash/goat cheese torte. She knows that I’m not exactly the cook of the family, so one year I wanted to make a salad, and she sent this recipe. It’s super-easy and I serve it every Thanksgiving. My friends and family always ask for it. They’ll say, ‘Hey Sue, just make a salad.’ In other words, ‘Don’t kill us with your cooking.’ ”
Any suggestions on changing it up? “For those who don’t eat pork, like me, you can either leave out the bacon or substitute vegan or turkey bacon. Sometimes I’ll add goat cheese or almonds, and a lot of times I’ve used Newman’s Own salad dressing to save time.”
What do you like about this salad? “It looks beautiful with the colors of the red spinach and cranberries, and very seasonal with the pears; plus, candied pecans are just associated with the holidays.”
So you don’t cook the big Thanksgiving feast? “I used to do the whole nine yards but one year, our kitchen was being renovated, and we ordered the pre-made Thanksgiving dinner from a grocery store. When my husband and kids ate it, they said, ‘Can we do this every year?’, so I got the hint.”
1 bag of heirloom red spinach (green will be fine)
1 pear, ripe but firm, sliced
½ cup candied pecans
¼ cup dried cranberries
3 strips crispy bacon, crumbled
1 minced shallot
2 Tbsp. honey
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
1. In small bowl, whisk together shallot, honey, vinegar and olive oil. Season to taste with kosher salt.
2. In a large bowl, gently toss together the spinach, pear slices, candied pecans, cranberries and bacon crumbles.
3. Add dressing a few tablespoons at a time until lightly dressed.