When I made this recipe recently, I actually wasn't so sure I wanted to try it. Caramelized pecans and apples seem so autumn-centric to me...and I'm in full-time spring mode lately. However, when spring comes, I tend to eat much lighter, skipping the "entrée" and eating the salads and side dishes as main meals. So this recipe actually began to seem just right for how I like to eat in April.
I found this salad in a Donna Hay magazine quite some time ago; after scouring her website, I can't find the issue number anywhere so, alas, no direct link - I've looked all over the web. But I didn't change anything - the recipe I'm sharing here is hers exactly.
Lastly, apologies for the photos, which were taken with my phone. That said...not bad for my phone, right?
Apple and Fennel Salad with Salted Caramel Pecans
Recipe from Donna Hay
12 slices prosciutto
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup superfine (caster) sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes (kosher salt is fine too)
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 small red apples, thinly sliced
4 bulbs baby fennel, thinly sliced (regular fennel is fine too; just use 2 large bulbs)
Preheat oven to 325 F (160 C). Place the prosciutto on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, brush with maple syrup, and bake for 10 minutes or until crisp and golden. Set aside.
Place the pecans, sugar, water, and salt in a bowl and toss to coat. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the pecans and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally or until caramelized. Set aside to cool.
Place the vinegar and oil in a bowl and whisk to combine. Place the apple, fennel, prosciutto, and pecans in a bowl, drizzle with the dressing, and toss to coat.
NOTE: For presentation, I layered it. Stack the apple slices, prosciutto, fennel; start again. Add pecans on top and around plate as garnish. I also saved some of the fennel fronds, chopped them, and sprinkled them on top last. Finish with a fresh grind of pepper.
Eat, drink, and embrace lightness.