Thursday, July 11, 2013

Jack's Salad {Guest Post}

My very tall and handsome cousin Daniel married one of the kindest, most artistic women I've met in my life. Everything Beth touches turns to art. From quilting, to painting, to illustration, to jewelry to even her cooking, she is a true inspiration. And you can't even be mad at her for it because she is so humble and nice. And anyway, if you got mad at her she would stop making you her chocolate chip cookies and even worse, her most famous of all famous culinary creations: her salad. This month, I'm so excited to have her as a guest beauty for salad month. It truly is my most favorite salad of all time. - Amber

This summery, citrusy salad has long been a favorite of ours; it was even served at the dinner the night before our wedding. Nearly ten years later we still love it (and each other). It's really simple to make, with only one slightly tricky element... but don't worry, once you've made it once it's as easy as can be!

This salad tends to develop followers. The first one was Amber's father, Jack, and for a while we called it Jack's salad. We've since moved and it's collected a few other names, but I still think of it as Jack's.

·        Lettuce, whichever you like (I use Boston Curly, or another crunchy lettuce if I can't find that)
·        Scallions, 1 bunch
·        Pecans, 1 cup, chopped into bits
·        Sugar, 1/4 cup
·        Fruit, whatever you have around, cut into chunks. Traditionally this uses mandarin orange slices, but I've used apple, strawberry, mango, you name it.
·        Blue cheese, crumbled
·        Brianna's Poppy Seed Dressing (1/2 cup)
·        Orange juice (1 cup)


Chop up the lettuce into small enough pieces that you can eat them without looking terribly foolish. Chop the scallions into thin slices. Chop the pecans into bits. Chop the fruit into manageable sizes. Lots of chopping.

The next part is the tricky bit. You're going to caramelize the pecans so they're deliciously sweet and crunchy. In a skillet over medium high heat, pour the 1/4 cup of sugar. Flatten it out over the bottom of the pan and watch it. If you're like me, you'll probably poke it a bit. Eventually, it will begin to melt. At this point, watch it more closely. You want it all melted, and a lovely caramel color. It's very easy to burn it at this stage, so the moment it looks caramel colored, take it off the heat and set it on another (cold) burner. Pour in the pecans and stir them around until they're all nicely coated, then leave the pan there until they cool down.

In the meantime, mix up the dressing! Combine the Brianna's and orange juice and stir. It will look absolutely horrifying for a while, but it gets better, I promise. The orange juice thins the poppy seed dressing nicely and makes it fresh and summery.

When your pecans are cooled, have at them with a butter knife until they are in manageable clusters as opposed to one giant solid mass.

Assemble the salad. Lettuce, then scallions, then the lovely pecans you've just made, then blue cheese, then fruit. Dress the salad liberally; the orange juice makes it so you really can't have too much dressing, it just runs off.

Beth Sobel
And as a sample of the amazing work Beth does, here's one of her illustrations. You can see more on her website at or purchase the board game Vitaculture, of which she was the illustrator, also pictured below. Oh and just cause I can, a photo of her amazing henna work too. This girl can do anything!


  1. This has candied nuts, fruit and blue cheese - I'm sold! Thanks, Beth!

  2. Dear lord, Amber, you made me blush something fierce. And right back at you, you lovely, talented, kind individual. <3

  3. I can't wait to make this. Beautiful photography each step of the way, too. Thanks for sharing Beth!

  4. I just wish Beth would make this for me, omg! Such a talent, are you sure we can't hate her? ;)