Mesclun Salad with Goat Cheese, Maple-Glazed Pecans & Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

mesclun salad with goat cheese and glazed pecans

If you’ve had dinner at my house, chances are you’ve had this salad. It’s perfect for entertaining — the glazed pecans and goat cheese dress it up, and the vinaigrette is one of those salty-sweet-tangy flavor combinations that everyone loves.

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The original recipe was printed in The Washington Post many years ago, but I had it for the first time at my dear friend Kelly’s house for a holiday dinner — I wouldn’t leave without the recipe!

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I make my version with mesclun and goat cheese, but Kelly makes hers with romaine and blue cheese, as specified in the original recipe.  If you think you’d prefer it that way, by all means, follow her lead.

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And one last tip to make things easier: if you have a small jar, use it to make and store your vinaigrette. Simply add all of your ingredients to the jar, screw on the lid, and give it a good shake – it emulsifies beautifully, no bowl or whisk required!

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The dressing will keep for a few days in the fridge so feel free to make it ahead of time; just toss it with the greens right before serving. You can also make the glazed pecans in advance — they’ll keep at room temperature, in an air tight container, for up to a week.

Mesclun Salad With Goat Cheese, Maple-Glazed Pecans and Maple Dijon Vinaigrette
adapted from
The Washington Post
Printable Recipe

Serves 6


For the pecans:
1 cup (4 ounces) pecan halves
2 tablespoons organic maple syrup
pinch salt

For the vinaigrette:
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon shallots, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tablespoons organic maple syrup
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as corn or canola

For the salad:
10 cups mesclun greens (or favorite mixed greens such as green or red leaf, boston, bibb, or romaine)
3 ounces goat cheese (or blue cheese), crumbled


For the pecans:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil or line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine the pecans and maple syrup and toss gently to combine. Spread the pecans in a single layer on one of the prepared baking sheets. Roast in the preheated oven, stirring once, until the syrup is bubbling vigorously, about 5 minutes. Immediately scrape the glazed pecans onto the other prepared baking sheet, spreading them in a single layer. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and set aside to cool.

For the vinaigrette:
In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, shallots, salt, pepper, maple syrup, mustard and vinegar. Whisking constantly, slowly add the oil in a steady stream. (Alternatively, add all your ingredients to a jar, cover with lid, and shake vigorously to blend.) Set aside.

For the salad: 
Place the greens in a large bowl, drizzle with about half of the vinaigrette and toss to combine. Add as much of the remaining vinaigrette as desired and toss again. Divide among individual plates, sprinkle with the cheese and reserved pecans and serve immediately.

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  • Ivory Chafin

    I made this salad for dinner this evening with a few small changes due to my allergies (substituted the veg. oil for rice bran oil and eliminated the garlic). My boyfriend was completely blown away with the flavor and said it was the best salad he’s tasted in ages. Thank you for a fantastic, simple recipe that is delicious and quick! I look forward to trying your other recipes!

  • Eden

    This is our new favorite salad. We made it for company over the weekend and everyone raved about it. The glazed pecans make a great snack too. Thanks!

  • Chris

    I *love* this salad! The shallots give the vinaigrette such a nice subtle flavor…

    I used some Trader Joe’s lightly glazed pecans that I had on hand, and it was absolutely delicious! I plan on a repeat performance for lunch tomorrow *grins* :)

  • Gail Cohen

    We made this for Thanksgiving and it was a HIT with our whole family. Thank you!

  • Didi

    I made this for Christmas dinner and added pomegranate seeds for color and extra crunch and taste. Rave reviews!

  • I tried this recently and loved it. The salad dressing (which I did indeed store in a jar in the fridge) was so delicious I recently made another batch to keep around as my go-to homemade salad dressing. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  • Sheila

    This salad dressing has become a staple. Love it!!!

  • Peter C

    I also tried a variation and it worked very well.
    I grilled the pecans in a frying pan with some olive oil (carefully so as not to burn, as it can happen quickly), then took it off the stove and added fig jam instead of maple syrup. Careful, as it caramelizes quickly! Delicious too!
    Thanks for the ideas!
    Peter C

  • darcy

    fabulous..added 2 more cloves of garlic and a tad more vinegar, half a tbsp…just to suit our taste..have been printing the recipe off for all our friends.

  • Amy

    This has become my go-to salad for entertaining. The dressesing is delicious and of course anything with goat cheese is better! Depending on how much time I have to prep, I buy candied pecans pre-made from my grocery store rather than making them myself. I have left the dressing in a sealed container up to about a week and it has been fine. A must eat recipe!

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