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Go greens!

In the dead of a long, cold winter, nothing reminds me of summer more than a fresh green salad bursting with flavorful ingredients. As a self-professed salad snob, I readily admit that I’m picky about my greens. If a restaurant serves up a sad plate of brown-tinged iceberg, I’m a little less than forgiving. Fortunately, so many places now offer imaginative salads that keep me coming back. But here’s the real secret: it’s super simple to dress up salads at home with restaurant-like touches. Here are a few of my favorites:

Toasted walnuts: Did you know you can toast walnuts in the microwave in about a minute? Just spread them out on a microwave-safe plate, and give them about 45 seconds on high.

Caramelized pecans: The quickest and easiest way to turn a salad from subpar to sublime! Just melt about a tablespoon of butter in a fry pan over low heat, then add about ½ cup of pecans and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Stir constantly until pecans are toasted and mixture has caramelized. Cool pecans on wax paper.

Roasted pears: Nothing beats mixed greens topped with goat cheese and roasted pears. Toss pear slices with olive oil and a little kosher salt. Spread evenly on a baking sheet, and roast at 425° for 7 minutes. Turn pear slices and roast for another 7 minutes. All I can say is YUM.

Cranberry vinaigrette: Skip the transfats and preservatives found in store-bought salad dressings and whip up this delicous vinaigrette found here in just minutes:

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons water

Combine in a blender and process until smooth.

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