Smoky Southwestern Salad Dressing

Smoked paprika, how I love thee, let me count the ways…

  1. On beans
  2. On meat
  3. In soup
  4. On salad
  5. In sauces

The list could go on and on.  Suffice it to say, this gem makes it into my top-three favorite spices list.  Anytime I am cooking Southwestern fare, I add a little dash for that deep, smoky flavor.  It has nearly replaced traditional paprika in my kitchen, as there is rarely an occasion when I don’t want to add a little char.

This simple salad dressing is perfect for weekday lunches, company-over dinners and a killer pasta salad. I like to drizzle it over a bed of romaine or spinach topped with black beans, warm quinoa and queso fresco. If I have fresh tomatoes or cucumbers, I add plenty of each.  Toss some up today.  Yum!

Smoky Southwestern Salad Dressing

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup cup red wine vinegar
3/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp freshly-ground pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
dash cayenne, optional

Combine all ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake to combine.  Store in refrigerator for up to several weeks.

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Salted Maple Pecans

Did you know that a once ounce serving of pecans contains ten percent of the fiber you need in a single day? They are also a great source of low-carb protein and low in saturated fat. A little research will yield a myriad of health benefits gained from regularly enjoying pecans. I do love them for their health benefits, but mostly I eat them because they’re delicious!

While I don’t grow my own pecans in the backyard (yet), we do cook with them regularly at home. We grind them into pecan butter, toss them in salads and enjoy them over hot cereal in the morning. They are a great addition any time of the year, and while they are delicious cloaked in the caramel of a pie, they have a natural sweetness that needs little adornment. These five-minute salted maple pecans are perfect in a spinach salad, chopped and sprinkled over grilled fish or on their own as a snack.

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Five-Minute Salted Maple Pecans

2 cups pecan halves
1/3 cup real maple syrup (no substitutions!)
¼-1/2 tsp salt

Heat the pecans on medium-high heat in a large skillet until fragrant and beginning to brown. Pour syrup over nuts and stir or toss continuously for 30-45 seconds until the syrup begins to thicken and stick to the nuts. Remove pan from heat and sprinkle with salt. Allow to cool and enjoy!

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Bonus Simple Spinach Salad Recipe

4 cups baby spinach, washed
½ cup blue cheese crumbles
½ cup salted maple pecans (above)
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste