Mixed Green Salad with Pecans, Goat Cheese, and Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

For the last couple of years, my neighbor Molly has been bringing this salad to our neighborhood potluck parties, and every time I go completely zonkers over it. The basic elements are mixed greens with pecans and goat cheese, tossed with a sweet mustard vinaigrette. The recipe has plenty of room for improvisation—use baby spinach or butter lettuce instead of or in addition to the mixed greens, orange segments or sliced kumquats for a citrus note, toasted walnuts instead of pecans, etc. Use more or less of any ingredient to taste.

Mixed Green Salad with Pecans, Goat Cheese, and Honey Mustard Vinaigrette Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 8.

If making in advance for a party, do not add the dressing until you are ready to serve. The recipe makes more salad dressing than is required for the salad.

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces pecans, whole
  • 1 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp honey mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb mixed salad greens, including fresh baby spinach
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1-2 inch thin slices

Method

1 Preheat oven to 300°F. Place pecans in a bowl, pour melted butter over them, sprinkle with sugar, and gently toss until the pecans are all well coated with a dusting of sugar. Place them in a single layer on a parchment paper or Silpat lined cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool to touch.

2 Whisk together the honey mustard, garlic, red pepper flakes, and balsamic vinegar in a medium sized bowl. Slowly drizzle the oil into the mixture, whisking constantly until completely incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3 Place lettuces and baby spinach in a large bowl. Add the goat cheese, dried cranberries, red bell pepper, and pecans. Toss with 1/4 cup of the dressing.

Serve immediately. Chill remaining dressing.

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36 Comments

  1. jonathan

    Oh, sure…tease me. Just when it’s -1 farenheit in the Northeast, and anything green in the produce aisle probably grew up in a South American country, was harvested well over a month ago and is already showing signs of a slow, wilting death.

    Why dost thou mock me so?

  2. Trish in MO

    Mmmm. I really like the salad dressing recipes. Some of my friends think it’s silly, but, I need a base dressing recipe to go by, or I just don’t get the proportions right. Then after that, I can tweak to taste. I don’t have this problem with other cooking, mostly with dressings and sauces.

    Aw, Jonathan, try to stay warm! Try Organic Girl lettuces, if you have it up there. :)

  3. Sterling

    This is seriously my favorite salad in the world! There is one restaurant in my town that makes it, except they use a berry vinaigrette, and it is delicious. I’ve tried to recreate it on my own but with no such luck (I can’t find a good berry vinaigrette). I might have to try with the honey mustard vinaigrette. Sounds so good!

  4. Suzanne

    One of my favorite salads is similar. Whatever greens you like with a simple vinigairette made with nut oils, fruit vinegar, and salt and pepper; and feta, thinly sliced red onion, dried cranberries and sunflower seeds mixed in.

    The first time I made it, my sister told me it was like something you’d see in Sunset, which I thought was apretty good compliment.

  5. Linda In Washington

    I love a simple tossed salad with a vinaigrette. Elise are those carrots I see in the photo?

    My most used salad dressing recipe and which I also use for light pasta sauce is
    1 to 2 tsp lemon juice or rice wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste ( 1/8 tsp or so), 1/2 to 1 clove of finely minced garlic, shake well in a small jar.
    Then add 1 to 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil then shake jar vigorously till well blended for a single serving.

    I also make my friend’s honey mustard dressing.

    2 tablespoons honey
    2 tablespoons Dijon mustard or Sheryl uses plain yellow mustard
    2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    1/4 teaspoon salt

    In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the honey, mustard and vinegar. Slowly add the oil in a steady stream, and whisk until all the oil is added and the mixture is emulsified. (Or use a food processor to make the dressing as I do streaming in the oil from the top) Add the salt and whisk together. Adjust seasoning to taste.

    Sounds like a great dressing, thanks! And those are red bell peppers in the photo, though you could easily use carrots. ~Elise

  6. chelsea

    I’m not a big salad eater but I’m trying to get into a little more…I usually need some chicken or something to really entice me. I’m just getting into cooking now that I’m out of college and officially an ‘adult’…any ideas on an easy way to add chicken to this yummy recipe?

    This would be great with a little leftover roasted chicken, shredded and added in. ~Elise

  7. Cyndi

    I do a similar salad, baby spinach, pecans, goat cheese, fresh strawberries sliced, red onion diced or sliced and a rasberry vinaigrette that you buy at any supermarket. Very good. just put spianch leaves in salad bowl and all of the other ingrediants and then dress with the rasberry vinaigrette.

  8. Donna

    Fabu! The whole family loved it. Thanks.

  9. Kiran

    This looks like a great recipe to have at parties or served at barbeque or pizza parties. Will have to give it a go, maybe even figs would go well with this salad.

  10. Tabitha (From Single to Married)

    mmm… Love goat cheese on a salad! I love this salad with some mandarin slices as well.

  11. Heather

    I made this dressing for similar salad for lunch and it was fabulous! I don’t care for goat cheese, but added blue cheese, apple pieces, sunflower seeds, craisins and green olives. Awesome, thank you so much!

  12. m

    Sounds yummy! And Jonathan, just think, this salad would be wonderful with some (good) bacon crumbled on top! ; )

  13. m

    I forgot to add in my comment my favorite salad to enjoy. (This is also good with bacon) The basic ingredients are tomatoes, sliced red onion, pecans, blue cheese and a herbed balsamic vinegarette dressing. Sometimes I add chopped spinach or other greens to it if I have them.

  14. The Duo Dishes

    Love this salad so much. Usually do strawberries and feta or goat cheese with a balsamic vinaigrette. Honey mustard is a nice variation! And of course the candied pecans are always a great touch.

  15. Josee.

    For a real treat, try roasting the pecans in maple syrup! To. Die. For.

  16. Lana

    Wonderful salad made it just as said and I loved it! The goat cheese is creamy and goes so well with the honey mustard. I can’t wait to put some breaded chicken strips on it and make it a full meal. Thanks for the recipe.

  17. Victoria

    This is truly one of my favorite salads. What better to pair with goat cheese than fruit. I add slices of Bosque Pears to this salad because they are in season and they add beautiful aroma and color to the dish.

  18. AnnaDe

    Looks like a great recipe. I’d like to make, but will need to cut proportions since it’s just my husband and I. Does anyone know–can chevre be successfully frozen?

  19. michael bash

    Please tell this fool what “honey mustard” is. Thanks.

    You can buy it in the grocery store, in the condiments section. Mustard sweetened with honey. ~Elise

  20. Kathy Dabrowski

    In response to Trish in MO re berry vinegar. If you live in St. Louis there is a great place to buy olive oil and vinegars, olives and other gourmet treats. It is Extra Virgin, Olive Ovation in Clayton, MO. They have all kinds of wonderful vinegars.

  21. Liza

    I love this salad. I add cubed apples instead of the bell pepper for an additional touch of sweetness and if I make it for a small crowd roll chunks of goat cheese in breadcrumbs and fry it. Yum!

  22. Gary

    This salad IS the bomb. My girlfriend and I made it on Valentines and we just couldnt stop stuffing face !!! Swapped out the pecans for walnuts but hey thats the beauty of it, you can add and swap out but it still comes out tops.Thanks Elise – you rock :)

  23. Simply

    I made this for a dinner party the other day to rave reviews, thank you so much!

  24. Trina

    Love, love , love this salad! Am hopelessly addicted to it!!

  25. Stacy

    I’ve been holding on to this recipe for a sunny, warm (ish) day in New Jersey. Today was the day. Well worth the wait…this one is a keeper!

    Thanks again!

  26. Trish

    I like to make something similar, using baby spinach, pecans, mandarin oranges, goat cheese crumbles, red onion slivers, and craisins, with a raspberry walnut vinaigrette. It’s delicious!

  27. Amy

    I made this salad last weekend at the request of one of the pickiest eaters in the universe and she loved it. We all did. Another home run. Thanks Elise!

  28. Emily swift

    I’m making this salad now for mothers day and I was wondering. Do you have a method on how to crumble chevre? When I did a little it just mushed up in my fingers. It was refrigerated before so it wasn’t softened. Help me if you can :)

    I would say just do the best you can. Yes, it is shmooshy and not crumbly. ~Elise

  29. holly

    I made this salad for the first time a month ago and I’ve been eating it non-stop ever since. It is delicious!

    As for crumbling chevre- I froze mine for an hour or two, then cut it with a knife and sprinkled it on the goat cheese while it was still kind of frozen. Work fast before it defrosts and turns (deliciously) creamy again!

  30. Will

    Absolutely amazing the way all of the different flavours are so identifiable and work so well together. I used 18 year old basalmic vinegar for the dressing. Just a stunning salad

  31. Kim

    A friend of mine brought this salad to dinner the other night only she used fresh blueberries and crumbled blue cheese, instead of cranberries and goat cheese, although I think that combination would be just as good…..it was delicious !!!!!

    This is the best salad ever !!!!!!

  32. Danielle

    I absolutely love salads and this salad sounds very delicious. I am not the type of person that cooks but preparing a salad is fast and easy. When you’re in a hurry and need to make something quick, a salad is the way to go. It is healthy and very refreshing. If I would make any improvisations to this recipe, I think I would use spinach leaves instead of mixed greens. I also would use toasted walnuts instead of pecans. Lastly, I love dried cranberries, and I would add those into the salad. I am excited to taste this salad. With the recipe and my new improvisations, I think this salad will be very appetizing.

  33. Alicia*

    I needed a way to use up some blue cheese. OMG! We loved this so much – the dressing is outstanding. My mistake was not having crusty bread to soak up the lingering dressing on the plate/bowl. Thank goodness it makes more dressing than you can use. I’ve been asked to make the salad again tonight for dinner. By Tuesday we’ll be in salad rehab for being addicted to the salad dressing. Who knew?!

  34. Tiffany

    Thanks so much for this recipe! I went to Chicago this weekend and had this salad at Capri’s Pizza and was looking for it online and here it is! Thanks again!

  35. Evelyn

    What a great salad! I had no honey mustard so I used Dijon instead and added a little sugar. Otherwise I made it exactly according to the recipe and it was delicious.

  36. The Omnivore

    This was just wonderful! The goat cheese all stuck to the bottom a bit too much but that just gave us a delightful surprise at the end!!

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