Howdy Y’all!  We have been spending the past few days in West Texas, visiting Matt’s Grandfather.  It is exactly the kind of place that epitomizes all Texas stereotypes.  Sprawling ranches with longhorn cattle grazing in wheat fields while the pump jacks keep time.  I used to visit there often Matt was working on his grandfather’s ranch.  I miss it immensely.  The wide open spaces, beautiful sunsets, and the slower pace of life.

Matt and Minda driving a tractor

We spent a whole day Monday driving around the in country.  First thing we did was stop by Valley Pecans in Chillicothe to get the best local pecans you could find anywhere.  We spent the rest of the day driving around, eating our pecans and seeing the few sights there are to see.  We stopped in the ghost town of Medicine Mounds to read the historic site plaques and play on an old merry-go-round.

After driving around all day I toasted some of the pecans we had bought to make a spinach salad with pears and blue cheese for dinner.  I also used virgin pecan oil that I had found at Valley Pecans to make a balsamic vinaigrette.   I had never had pecan oil before, but it was perfect for this salad.  After dinner we were able to step out on the front porch just in time to watch the sun sink below the horizon.

Spinach Salad with Pecans, Pears, and Blue Cheese with Pecan Balsamic Vinaigrette

4 packed cups baby spinach

1 packed cup baby spring mix lettuce

1 bosc pear, cored and thinly sliced

½ cup raw pecans, coarsely chopped

½ cup blue cheese, crumbled

1/8 cup aged balsamic vinegar

1/8 cup virgin pecan oil (or walnut oil)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

In a small pan over medium-high heat, toast the pecans, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes.  In a large salad bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, pecan oil, Dijon mustard, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Add the spinach and lettuce to the bowl and toss to coat.  Top with the pecans, pear, and blue cheese.

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