For the last couple of years, my neighbor Molly has been bringing this salad to our neighborhood potluck parties, and every time everyone goes 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
- 4 ounces whole pecans
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Honey Mustard Vinaigrette:
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey mustard
- 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound 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
Toast the pecans:
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 300°F oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit until cool enough to touch.
Make the dressing:
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.
Toss the salad:
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.