And by terrible what I mean is there are no fresh tomatoes. As a result, my salads tend to get pretty boring: a sliced up carrot here, some slivers of red onion there. Yes, I know it's possible to get tomatoes year-round, but they just don't taste the same as the ones from the farmer's market at the height of summer.
The only thing that keeps me from spiraling down into the salad doldrums this time of year is these pecans.
See, I can get pecans year-round from this wonderful farmer who picks them in the summer and fall and then sits around and shells them in front of the television all winter. He's at the Dale City Farmer's Market this time of year, by the way, if you're local. Get there early if you wants pecans--he always sells out.
And often I just throw pecans in a pan on the stovetop and toast them (carefully since they go from toasted to charred in the space of a few heartbeats), but when we're having company, it's often worth it to go the extra mile and candy them.
Sometimes if I'm feeling extra daring, I'll toss in a 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and make sweet and spicy pecans. Though really all that accomplishes is that I eat them all before I can top salads with them.
Then I just throw them on top of salad greens with some dried cranberries and sliced apple or pear, whip up a little vinaigrette in the food processor and suddenly winter salad no longer seems quite so dismal.
Recipe from Taste of Home