The Sweet Salad Toppings You Need To Elevate Flavor And Presentation

Layers of green leaves, cubes of purple beetroot, vibrant sliced tomatoes, crumbled white feta, and a light dressing: Salads sing with a beautiful combination of textures, colors, and flavors. They're almost perfect, but something might be missing — a crunchy, sweet topping that dazzles the eyes and hypnotizes your taste buds. This enchanting addition comes in the form of candied nuts or seeds.

It's likely that the origin of candied nuts can be traced back to France during the 17th century. The mention of candied nuts or seeds probably has you imagining a decorative coffee cake or bejeweled pecan bar, but these beauties also complement the ripples of green in your salad bowl. There are plenty of underrated nuts that, when candied, can elevate the presentation and enhance the flavor of your salad. It's a simple enough trick that combines sugar and butter to create the perfect crunchy texture and visual appeal.

Candied gems in a sea of green

Candied nuts and seeds add a much-needed sparkle to those differing salad shades. Caramelized in brown sugar, these little gems can add bite and sweetness — they're sure to be a crowd-pleaser. You can buy nuts that are already candied, or you can crystallize them at home. This can be done in a frying pan with butter, sugar, and spices (cinnamon is wonderful), or scattered on a baking tray and roasted in the oven. 

Either way, it's integral to keep an eye on them. Mistakes in timing can be one of the most significant flaws of roasting different nut varieties. Whether you choose pecans, walnuts, macadamia, almonds, or cashews — a minute can make a difference, and a burnt taste is pretty tricky to hide.

Seeds can also be candied, which is a great way to reduce waste. For example, pumpkin seeds no longer have to see the inside of your bin but can instead grace the top of your salad. While nuts and seeds provide a slightly different taste, you can experiment with the ingredients you candy them in too. Add a touch of honey or maple syrup, a little warm paprika, a sprinkle of salt, or a pinch of nutmeg.

Candied seeds and nuts elevate other dishes

These nuts and seeds can easily tie in similar flavor profiles in your salad or amplify certain elements. Candied pecans, for example, would complement pear and goat cheese, while candied walnuts would work in a Waldorf salad, blending well with apple, lettuce, and Greek yogurt. Candied pumpkin seeds, on the other hand, can elevate glazed carrots. 

While candied nuts and seeds will liven up your salads, these gorgeous toppings can also make their way onto other plates. Picture elevated snack bowls, decadent desserts, and superior cheese boards. While you may be apprehensive about the nutritional value of candied seeds and nuts, these sparkly additions retain many health benefits even after being cooked. Candied walnuts, for instance, are still rich in protein and potassium. Adding butter and sugar will elevate the levels of carbohydrates and fats, but this outcome is inevitable. With nutrition and application sorted, there is no excuse left not to try this out.