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 Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

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

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • 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.

Yum

Ingredients

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

Method

1 Preheat oven to 300°F. Put the pecans in a bowl, sprinkle the melted butter over them, and toss until they are all well coated with butter. Then sprinkle the pecans with sugar and gently toss again until they are lightly coated. Line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper and spread the coated pecans out over it in a single layer. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit until cool enough to touch.

2 Place the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey mustard, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes in a jar, cover and shake until the dressing is well mixed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3 Place the salad greens and 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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Showing 4 of 33 Comments

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

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