spinach-mandarin power salad

spinach_mandarin_power_salad
Spinach is an amazing powerhouse of vitamins and minerals: Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, E, and K, plus folic acid, calcium, potassium, and zinc. Mandarin oranges contain vitamin C. Both mandarin oranges and spinach are fat-free, and pecans are high in fiber and protein. This colorful salad is not only nutritious, it’s also beautiful, and the complex dressing provides a wonderful burst of flavor!

1/4 cup pecans, toasted
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. brown mustard
2 Tbs. orange juice
Dash of salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
5 oz. baby spinach leaves, washed
11-oz. can mandarin oranges, drained

1. Toast pecans in a pan over medium heat for a few minutes, watching them carefully. When they start to brown and release their oils (about 2 to 3 minutes), remove from pan and place on paper towels to cool.

2. In a large bowl, combine next 7 ingredients with a wire whisk to make the dressing.

3. Add spinach leaves and orange slices; combine with dressing. Arrange salad on serving plates. Top with toasted pecans.

Variations: You can add sliced green onions if you like them, or substitute toasted sliced almonds or pine nuts for the pecans.

caramel-pecan rolls

If you’re expecting guests, roll out the red carpet and fix a batch of these caramel-pecan rolls for breakfast. They’re guaranteed to rival the offerings of your neighborhood java joint, and your guests may never leave.

Dough:
1 .25-oz. package active dry yeast
1 2/3 cup warm water
1 tsp. salt
4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 Tbs. vegan margarine
Additional margarine for greasing bowl and pan

Caramel:
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 Tbs. vegan margarine
3 Tbs. light corn syrup
1/3 cup chopped pecans

1. To prepare dough, dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes; add salt. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of flour to yeast mixture. Dough will begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, incorporating the remaining flour until dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, if the dough sticks to your hands.

2. Grease a medium bowl with vegan margarine. Place dough in the bowl, cover with a clean dish towel, and let rise for about 1 hour in a warm place.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the caramel. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with vegan margarine and set aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, vegan margarine, and corn syrup. Stirring constantly, heat until smooth and thick (about a minute and a half). Pour caramel into the bottom of the springform pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle pecans over the caramel mixture and set dough aside.

4. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside. When dough has doubled in size, punch it down and let it rise for about 5 more minutes. On a floured surface, roll dough out into a large rectangle. Spread margarine on dough with a butter knife, leaving a 1/2″ border around the edges, and sprinkle sugar over the margarine.

5. Beginning with the side of the dough closest to you, begin rolling the rectangle tightly into a log. Trim the edges off and discard. Slice the log into 1″ rounds and place them in the springform pan on top of the caramel. Cover with the clean dish towel and let rise until doubled in size (about 40 minutes).

6. Preheat oven to 375°. Bake caramel-pecan rolls for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and invert pan onto serving plate (be careful!). Open the springform pan, carefully using a knife to help free any rolls that stick to the pan. Lift off the springform pan bottom to reveal the beautiful caramel-pecan topping. Your guests will be impressed!