I have been wanting to make this salad in Peru for a very long time. I am not sure where all O’Charley’s is located, but it is one of my favorite restaurants in the states. They have some killer yeast rolls they serve warm, and they never disappoint me in their salad category. To my friends in Texas, their menu reminds me a lot of Cheddar’s. Back in the day when Greg and I were living off of one salary and paying for two masters degrees, we would occasionally splurge to have a date night and share this salad. They would serve you unlimited rolls so we always got our fill. (On a side note, I forgot that we used to go on dates whenever we pleased without worrying about childcare–oh the days!)
So, if there is a dish that communicates love to my husband (there are more than one), THIS is definitely one of them. I found the recipe on line. I will just share the link with you if interested, and share any extra tid-bits I learned along the way with some pictures.
First of all, I lucked out on all the ingredients. Greg and I both love foods with ingredients we would never think of putting together, and we love a lot of weird ingredients. We recently got a new grocery store here in Arequipa that carries Craisins from the states. Also, the mandarin oranges are delicious right now. My girls can eat about 5 in one sitting–deliciously sweet. Pecans are outrageous price-wise all year round, so this salad will have to be a special occasion salad for Arequipa as well.
First, I made the candied pecans. We LOVE candied pecans. In fact, they have become a traditional Christmas treat for us. I have a recipe that uses butter, sugar, and egg whites, but I don’t think I will be using that recipe anymore. These were so EASY to make. I almost feel like I should post a separate recipe for “Honey Toasted Pecans” all on its own. All you need is 2 cups pecans, 1/4 cup honey, and 1 tsp salt. They also only take about 20 minutes to cook–much shorter than my other recipe.
I allowed them to cool on foil and then chopped them for the salad. I couldn’t keep myself from snacking on “a few” before we ate lunch, though. Oh, and 2 cups was way more than we needed for four good sized salads. I actually could have gotten away with using 1 cup.
It is hard to say which ingredient “makes” this salad, but the chicken absolutely rocks my world. After eating this salad, Greg asked, “How did you make that chicken?” He wanted to know because he said it was the best tasting chicken I have ever prepared here. Well, for starters, it is the first time I have fried chicken here in Peru. But what makes this chicken so delicious is that it is pecan encrusted. Don’t you love that phrase? That is the kind of phrase that smart menu makers put on a dish title to suck me in immediately. You cut 2 lbs of chicken into strips, roll them in flour, place them in egg, and then drench them in the deliciousness of bread crumbs, pecan crumbs, nutmeg, and orange juice. Can you say “yum?”
Now comes the part where you assemble the ingredients: Romaine lettuce, mandarin orange slices, dried cranberries, bleu cheese, and honey roasted pecans. Does it get much better than this?
The answer is yes. It does get better than this… add the pecan crusted chicken tenders on top. And if you can believe it, it still gets better…
This is our middle child (2 years old), drinking the rest of the balsamic dressing left in her bowl. I make my own, and I have found a recipe that we really like. Here it is if you are looking for a good balsamic dressing recipe: Shelia’s Best Balsamic Dressing. And for the record, I ALWAYS double this baby. It is the perfect finishing touch to bring all of the ingredients together.
And I, of course, had to get a picture of her when she came back up for air.
Look at that face and that empty bowl. Does it look like she enjoyed it? I will admit that my kids are not picky eaters, but this was a great family recipe. We all loved it. If you live near an O’Charley’s, go order this baby. But if you don’t, this recipe is so worth the time if you like a good salad. I considered making their yeast rolls, but got lazy and bought the fresh baked croissants at the bakery this morning (we may not have O’Charley’s, but I seriously doubt that many of you can buy fresh baked croissants.) I will live it up here while I can. 😉