Here’s a salad fit to join the lineup for your fanciest dinner or holiday meal. Each of the ingredients brings its own unique taste and texture to the mix, but the standout is the praline. A hard candy typically consisting of sugar and nuts, praline was invented in the 17th century by the French (which is why it’s pronounced “prah leen,” not “pray line”). Here in America all these years later, there are two distinct versions of praline — the New Orleans version and the version made everywhere else. This recipe uses the non-New Orleans type.Arugula Salad with Spicy Pecan Praline and Gouda
For the praline:
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
1/4 cup sugar
For the dressing:
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
For the salad:
8 cups loosely packed arugula
3/4 cup coarsely grated aged gouda
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Make the praline: Lightly oil a baking sheet. In a small bowl toss the pecans with the salt and cayenne. Place the sugar in a heavy skillet or saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar starts to melt. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the sugar turns a golden caramel. Add the pecan mixture and, using a heatproof spatula or spoon, stir to combine well.
Carefully pour the pecan praline onto the sheet pan (the mixture will be very hot) and spread evenly with an oiled offset spatula. Let cool completely. Crack the praline into pieces and medium-chop it.
Make the dressing: In a bowl whisk together the mustard, vinegar and salt to taste, until the salt is dissolved. Add the oil in a stream, whisking, until all the oil is incorporated. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary, and black pepper to taste.
Make the salad: In a large bowl combine the arugula, gouda, cranberries and praline. Add the dressing and toss well. Serves 6.