Spring Mix Salad with Spiced Pecans
… and Maple Dressing




And so I screamed at the chef, “Oh YEAH?  Well you can SUCK IT”.  And then we stormed out of there tooting and drooling all the way.

Chapter 1

(3 weeks  ago)

My sister and I went to a Country Club for lunch with our mother and a couple of friends.  Our friends happen to be 90 and 98 years old.  They’re the smartest people I know.  They wear scads of jewellery, nicer clothes than I do, go to way more parties and always have lipstick on.  We go for this lunch once a year during Christmas.  Always the four of us, always at the Country Club.  The only thing that made this year different was that the 90 year old got a hearing aid so we didn’t have as much yelling.

As a starter I ordered the Carrot Ginger Soup and my sister ordered the “Golf and Country Club Salad”.   I slurped my soup down in a jiffy, wondering the whole time if it was homemade or from some kind of soup powder.  I’d know soon enough.  My sister took one bite of her salad and started twitching.  Within seconds of tasting it she declared it the best thing she’d ever eaten.  And it didn’t stop with the first bite.  She talked throughout the entire salad.  About the salad.  To the salad.  She had a 5 minute affair with a salad and said things to it I know for a fact she hasn’t said to her husband in years.

Now that she’d tasted the salad she knew she wanted to serve it at her Christmas party the coming weekend.  So … being the confident show off that I am, I said “I’ll get the recipe for the dressing from the chef”.  So when our waitress came around again I asked her if she could possibly ask the chef for the ingredients in the dressing.  I didn’t need measurements, just the ingredients. She seemed doubtful, but agreed.

10 minutes later she was back with our main courses.  Not a word about the dressing.  So I brought it up again.  Hey.  How ’bout that dressing recipe?  Is that coming with the coffee?  Please?  Pretty please with a rather large tip on top?  Turns out this particular chef doesn’t like to share recipes.  By this time a rumbling had started in my stomach.  The kind of rumbling that can only be described as inner toots.  I was tooting on the inside.  My suspicions that the soup was from a mix had been confirmed.  I had the soup toots.  I get those from soups that aren’t homemade.

So I thanked the waitress for trying and resigned myself to the fact that the dressing was probably storebought and came in a vat, and that’s why the chef didn’t want to share her secret recipe.  As a chef it’s hard to admit your secret recipe begins with “Take a left at the canned goods aisle“.

My inside toots were threatening to become outside toots at this point so I had to really concentrate on not letting that happen.

By now my sister was drooling.  It was the thought of the salad.  She was like Pavlov’s dog.  At any mention or thought of the salad she started dripping spit.  She was very disappointed that she wasn’t going to be able to make this salad for the party, so being the confident show off that I am I said, “Don’t worry.  I’ll figure out the dressing”.  Although I had no idea how.

Well, as luck would have it,  … turns out our waitress was a bit of a talker.  With each trip back to the table she’d mention an ingredient.  Sure, she’d claim she wasn’t sure but she thought such and such might go in it.  And she was almost certain she’d seen them mix in some of that.  By the time we’d left I’d got Maple Syrup and some kind of fruit juice out of her.

By the end of the lunch I’d gathered up quite a bit of fondness for our waitress and a great deal of contempt for the chef.  As we got up to leave I glared at the kitchen and in my head screamed at the chef, “Oh YEAH?  Well you can SUCK IT”.  And then we stormed out of there tooting and drooling all the way.

This salad has been stolen.  It’s a stolen salad.   If you choose to make this salad you will be aiding and abetting a criminal.  Do so at your own risk and volition.


Ingredients 2






Dressing 2


This dressing is a mixture of sweet from the maple syrup and tang from the vinegar.  If you’re not in love with vinegar in your salad dressings, then use a half part of the vinegar.  That’s how I did it for my sister because she likes her dressing really sweet.  She also still likes fish sticks.

You can buy Sugared Spiced Pecans from The Bulk Barn.  They’re just sugared pecans with a touch of cayenne pepper, so you can also make them yourself really easily.

And yes.   I did get the recipe figured out in time for my sister’s party. It was the hit of the party.  People ooed and ahhhed over it.  People lined up to get a glimpse of me … the salad maker.  They begged me for the recipe.  I told them to turn left at the canned goods.

And then I gave every single one of them, even the ones  who didn’t ask for it, the recipe.



  1. cred says:

    I have to leave a 2nd comment & share another Maple Balsamic dressing (source unknown) similar to Dana’s.
    It is a bit more asian in flavour than the one you’ve devised but anyone whom I serve it to, adds it to their repertoire.

    1/4 c balsamic vinegar
    1/8 c each- olive oil & sesame oil
    2 tbsp each- soy sauce & maple syrup
    3 cloves of crushed garlic
    1/4 tsp each- dried thyme & dill

    Add to jar & shake. Serve over baby spinach, with mandarin orange sections & sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

  2. pat says:

    Hey Karen, That is a great dressing. I think your chef uses Edna Staebler’s books. Remember her? Food that Schmecks. She made something similar but with regular balsamic and no juice. As you pointed out – it’s optional. I heard Edna run through the ingredients on a CBC interview years ago and figured, rightly so, it sounded like a killer combo. Like you, she offered no measurements, just the list. Yum! Take that back to your uppity chef.

  3. Paulette says:

    I always enjoy reading your posts. You’re so funny. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. Way to go Karen! You must have a a pretty big dollop of terrier in your blood. This salad might be a good one to try on hubby some day. He likes salad but isn’t that into “fancy”, though he has a big love of maple syrup. Perhaps this salad will lure him over to the wild side.

  5. Teri says:

    toot sweet on the recipe! Don’t really like maple syrup but might still make it since it sounds so ummm yummy.. Glad our strawberries are in season (not) but California ships them here to sell to us midwesterners…or maybe its Florida…either way they are in the grocery store…

  6. Nicole2 says:

    LOL! Great post. And the timing is great too because I’m sure everybody wants to eat salad after all the pigging out of the holidays. Yummy looking salad.

    I’d love to meet your friends, they sound like a hoot!

  7. charlene says:

    I have this salad dressing recipe. We love it, but I got mine from the back of a spinach bag, for a spinach salad. I guess that makes mine legal lol

    • Karen says:

      Hey Charlene – Is it exactly the same? ‘Cause that would be weird. I thought I was being very clever with figuring out the White Balsamic. It would also be hilarious if the chef’s secret recipe was from the back of a spinach bag. If it’s *exactly* the same I’m pretty proud of myself for figuring it out. ~ karen!

  8. chreistine says:

    I have had this salad! I have been making it for a couple of years and in my older age laziness I use the Compliments Raspberry Vinaigrette.Only in Canada,you say.Try it with blue cheese and dried cranberries too.

  9. Laura says:

    Who told you I was having a party Tuesday and needed a new salad recipe!?! Yay Karen! Can’t wait to try it! Happy New Year!

  10. Danielle M. says:

    You’re not crazy. You totally remember correctly that you talked about buying the sugared pecans. It’s just that we’re having an affair with the *pictures* of the salad because even the pictures look that good.

    We lose our focus sometimes. You know, for affairs and all…

  11. Emie says:

    A friend of mine does something similar that’s delicious…. baby greens, candied walnuts or pecans, apples, dried cranberries, cheddar or feta cheese… and for the dressing… blood orange infused olive oil and balsamic… both to taste! I can’t wait to try this version!

  12. Barbie says:

    I am ALWAYS up for a new salad! I never understand the whole “secret” to the recipe thing…why? Why? do chefs do that? It’s so ridiculous! One can really figure it out anyway….with a little experimenting…..and a few hints! I hope your waitress got a good tip! ;)

    • margaret says:

      I’ve never understood the ‘secret’ thing either; I force my favourite recipes on anyone who will take them so I’ll have a backup when I lose mine!

  13. cred says:

    Yum- this looks so good. Why or why, can’t strawberries be in season right now?
    I have a recipe for spiced, sugared walnuts that I also use for pecans. They are amazing- the recipe is from Trish Magwood for her Boston Lettuce & Pear Carpaccio salad- this is the salad that makes me drool & while I’ve made it on several occasions, I still talk about it lovingly through my whole meal, as well.
    Although, the spiced walnuts are excellent, it’s the dressing that makes it- making your own spiced nuts can be a hassle so I often just toss in fresh walnuts & I still wanna marry this salad. You could just make a double or triple batch of the nuts but then they make a delicious snack and never make it to my next salad serving. You can google Trish’s recipe & see how to make the nuts or I can just post it here.(but I’m trying to keep my comment brief- can you tell?)

    • Glenda says:

      Cred, I made Trish Magwood’s salad too. It’s a family favourite. I have to make adjustments because my husband is allergic to mold and can’t have blue cheese. I add sharp cheddar (Imperial) and use apples, but the spiced walnuts really make it.

  14. Dana (a.k.a. @RadioRedHead) says:

    Sounds delish! I felt the same about the house salad at a Montreal fondue restaurant (Fonduementale) a few years back. Luckily they were willing to share the recipe & I make it (& share the recipe)all the time:

    Sesame Salad

    1 part sesame oil
    3 parts rice vinegar (must be a sweet one, I.e. approx 5g of sugar per serving on ingredient list)
    Toss with mixed greens (I.e. spring mix)
    Top with toasted sesame seeds (I brown them in a frying pan)

    That’s it! The SIMPLE base salad that I fell in love with!

    Thanks for persevering with the recipe your salad sounds RIGHT up my alley! Can’t wait to try it. :-D

  15. mimiindublin says:

    Yum, yum.
    And because YOU didn’t turn left at the canned goods aisle, it’s super-healthy!
    I’ll have to make the pecan thingy myself, as we don’t have Bulk Barn this side of the pond :(

    Thank you (and of course the talkative waitress) for sharing the recipe!

  16. Marti says:

    Prologue? Chapter 1? Wow, look at you with all your literary style elements! You rock!

    Wait… we already knew that one.

    Um, Karen, I happen to have the recipe for the best spiced pecans ever. Hit me for it, if you want to be truly self-sustaining… and fat.

    • Karen says:

      Marti – I … I … I thought you’d disappeared. ~ karen

      • sera says:

        I want that recipe for spiced pecans!!! I know I can get them at Trader Joes, but I would love to make my own!

      • Marti says:

        No, I’m the original bad penny. But I’m also so scarred by my own mother’s constant babbling about her bladder issues that I run and hide under a bed whenever a post mentions those. ;)

        Sera, I see I can send you that recipe direct. I work graveyard shifts, so it’ll roll in sometime in the next 24 hours to you and Karen’s email boxes.

  17. Tricia Rose says:

    You do know this recipe don’t you Karen? (you probably invented it: http://scandifoodie.blogspot.com/2011/10/activated-spiced-nuts.html

  18. Oh I’ve got to make this. I’m so pleased you took the time to figure it out. I wouldn’t have had the patience.

  19. Susan says:

    Mmmm……!!! Funny about the soup. I consider myself a bit of an afficando of soup, love soup, all kinds of soup! Before I can really enjoy anybody’s soup I find myself “tasting” the soup….but what I want to know is did the 90 and 98 year old still have their smellers intact on the way home? Just wondering……BTW ….mmmmm good dressing!

  20. Sandy says:

    I will be aiding and abetting because I am SO making this salad. Thanks for figuring it out!!

  21. Adrienne Audrey says:

    Looks yummy! I will be making this salad soon for sure!

  22. itchbay says:

    Oh! Yum! Although not sure where to get strawberries this time of year, I’m sure I can substitute some of the pears I “stole” from my friend’s Christmas gift box from his estranged father. Really. It’s OK. He doesn’t like pears that much.

  23. Diane says:

    I plan to steal this, give it a new name and then sell it lol

    But seriously, can you buy the spiced, sugared pecans or did you do that yourself?

    • Karen says:

      Diane – I thought I talked about that. Maybe I didn’t ’cause you’re the second person to ask. No, I bought them at The Bulk Barn. They’re just sugared pecans with a touch of cayenne pepper in them, so you could easily make them yourself. ~ karen!

  24. Robyn says:

    We’re in salad eating weather (40*C) so this has come at the perfect time! Thanks for sharing – I have no problem aiding and abetting your criminal crusades. After all we wouldn’t know half this stuff you write about otherwise ;-)

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