Mesclun Salad with Goat Cheese, Maple-Glazed Pecans & Maple Dijon Vinaigrette
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This is the perfect fall salad for entertaining. The dressing has that savory-sweet flavor combo that everyone loves.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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 airtight container, for up to a week.
You may also like
- Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese, Walnuts & Honey-Dijon Vinaigrette
- Baby Kale Salad with Lemon, Parmesan & Crispy Roasted Chickpeas
- Arugula Salad with Apples & Manchego in Cider Vinaigrette
- Big Italian Salad
Mesclun Salad with Goat Cheese, Maple-Glazed Pecans and Maple Dijon Vinaigrette
This is the perfect fall salad for entertaining. The dressing has that savory-sweet flavor combo that everyone loves.
For the Pecans
- 1 cup (4 ounces) pecan halves
- 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
- Pinch salt
For the Vinaigrette
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1½ tablespoons real maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
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.
- Note: Nutritional information assumes that all of the salad dressing is used.
- Per serving (6 servings)
- Calories: 335
- Fat: 31 g
- Saturated fat: 4 g
- Carbohydrates: 13 g
- Sugar: 8 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Protein: 5 g
- Sodium: 224 mg
- Cholesterol: 7 mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.
Gluten-Free Adaptable Note
To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.
Another incredibly delicious recipe! Thank you for such perfection. The flavors are perfectly balanced. We love all of your recipes. Each salad is better than the last. We love salads and you have the best recipes.
Loved this salad. Used a combination of romaine and a bag of mixed greens. It’s delicious. I do not drench my salad with dressing.
Would honey be a good substitute for the maple syrup in the vinaigrette?
It will have a slightly different flavor, but it will work. Hope you enjoy!
Hi Jen, can I use olive oil or canola for dressing?
Yes, I’d go with canola oil. Hope you enjoy!
I put this dressing on everything. I use dried shallots to make it even faster, and it always turns out great!
This is my all time favorite salad recipe that I’ve made countless times. Always a hit, and often make when cooking for company. Thank you so much for your recipes!!
This salad was fantastic!!
Every time I make this salad for my family they rave about it! And it’s in regular rotation at least a few times a month. It’s simple and delicious. I add sliced fresh ripe pears in the fall, strawberries in early summer and mandarin oranges in the winter.
Oh wow, this dressing with the gorgeous mix of maple pecans and spicy greens is fantastic! I can’t eat dairy so I left the cheese off, and it was still amazing.
We love this maple Dijon vinaigrette. I make up a jar and keep it in the fridge for our summer salads. It goes with everything, even Greek salad! Thanks for another wonderful recipe. K
We are very health conscious here. I want to make this salad for Thanksgiving but am wary of vegetable oil. Is there a brand or type of vegetable oil that you can recommend as being healthy?
Hi Colleen, I generally use Mazola but I can’t say that I’ve compared it nutritionally to any other vegetable oils. Sorry I can’t be more helpful!
I make it with avocado oil and it works great!
Fantastic! The vinaigrette is delicious, and very light, not oily. It’s perfect for coating tender greens. The pecans add crunch and the cheese adds tang. Because of its simplicity this salad is very versatile, and would pair nicely with any entree. I made a molasses version of the pecans and tried both goat cheese and gorgonzola. I preferred the gorgonzola. It seemed to add more tang. Excellent!
I have made this salad multiple times, for Christmas, Thanksgiving, luncheons, etc. Every time people ask for the recipe. It is really a simple salad with a delicious combination of flavors. I always make extra pecans for snacking! Thank you for this great recipe!
I would like to make this for lunch for my friends but I would like to maybe add a dish to go with it. Maybe a quiche ?? Do you have any suggestions on what to serve with this ? Thanks ..this looks so delicious!
Hi Char, I think quiche would work perfectly with this! This quiche Lorraine is a new one on the blog. This spinach quiche is also very popular among readers. Hope that helps! 🙂
Our absolute favorite salad. Always a hit whether it is served with a fancy meal for guests or Saturday night burgers. My daughter loves goat cheese, thanks to this salad. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!
There is a commercial out currently where people drink Ranch dressing with a straw or guzzle it down! This is exactly how I feel about this dressing, I have never eaten so much salad, I could eat this all day everyday. I like everything about this salad, the sweetness of the pecans and the saltiness of the goat cheese, everything is just right! Thank you.
how many calories is one serving ?
Hi Miranda, If you toss half the dressing into the salad, each serving would be 186 calories (and obviously if you add more dressing, it will up the calories). Hope that helps!
It is a delicious dressing and salad for sure. Thank you Jenn! What kind of cheese would you recommend for company that aren’t goat cheese fans!
Also I love your cookbook and am working through it as a happy student😋. Thank you again.
(I’ve resent my comment above to try and provide a 5-star rating of the recipe but the rating function isn’t working at my end. Hence this post script)
Hi Laura, Blue cheese would be delicious here, although I’d serve it on the side as many people don’t care for it. You could also try feta. May I ask what type of device you are using to leave a comment here? I’ve been having issues with the star rating not working and I’m trying to get to the bottom of it. Thank you!
Thank you for the suggestion Jenn!
Also, as follow up to your request, the device I use is an iPhone.
Thanks for letting me know! 🙂
I can’t say enough wonderful things about this salad. I made it for Thanksgiving with friends two years ago and it has since become a requested item for any/all occasions. It is easy to prep in advance and the flavors are a refreshing change from the average garden salad. I use pre-glazed pecans found in the bulk foods section of my grocery store (again, easy prep). Always get rave reviews with this one!
This salad is fantastic! The dressing is to die for.. really. Such great flavor. I prefer to blend the dressing in a blender and thin with a little cranberry juice when serving a buffet because the vinagarette tends to separate.
Working my way steadily through your new book, haven’t been disappointed yet! My kids keep calling to find out what’s the latest dish I’ve made and then steal the recipes – think I might just need to bite the bullet and buy them their own copies. Having company over after being out all day and want to make everything ahead of time if poss. I am planning to make the chicken salad, it’s awesome. Do you think this salad would work with it? Maybe with some nice fresh crusty bread, or is there something else you would suggest? Love your German potato salad but not sure if it would work.
Hi Kathy, so glad you’re enjoying the cookbook! (And I love that you’re kids are benefitting from it too :).) I do think that this salad would work just fine with the chicken salad, but I may suggest a fruit salad instead to diversify a bit. This one would be nice and in season. And crusty bread is a must! Hope everyone enjoys!
I made this recipe for Thanksgiving, which was a hit. The only change I made was to add pomegranate seeds to the salad (which everyone loved). In fact, I doubled the dressing and was able to use it for our garden salad the next evening. (I also plan on keeping the salad dressing recipe for other salads since it was so popular.)
Hi Jenn Can I use olive oil instead? thanks so much.
Hi Melissa, while technically olive oil will work in the dressing, I like vegetable oil here as it is more mild tasting.
I made this for thanksgiving dinner, and what a hit!!! We all loved it. I can’t wait to make it again! Thanks for the great recipe
I made this salad for Thanksgiving and it was a great hit! Thank you Jen for the wonderful recipes! Looking forward to more !
This is by far my family’s favorite salad. I often make it when we have people over for dinner and have been asked for the recipe many times!
Delicious. Everyone loves when I make this. I add blueberrys and the goat cheese cubes from Costco.
What an awesome salad! This is so easy to prep ahead of time and comes together so easily. The maple pecans are divine, I had a hard time not eating them before I served the salad. The dressing is delicious, I had to use a little green onion rather than shallots and it was still very good. The balance of sweet and savory is perfect and just the right dressing for this salad and so many more. I have found a new dressing recipe for sure.
I believe the final review on this recipe is for something else. I don’t see any call for rice bran oil or garlic in the recipe. Am I missing something?
Hi Barbara, I believe what the commenter way saying was that she used rice bran oil instead of the vegetable oil the recipe calls for. And the dressing does use one clove of garlic. Hope that clarifies!
I made this recipe for Thanksgiving Dinner with friends. I followed the recipe exactly with the exception of the maple syrup. Following one reviewer’s suggestion, I used pancake syrup as a substitution. I was unhappy with the way the goat cheese just kind of got soft and gooey after I put it in the salad, but later I found out that’s just what goat cheese does. So no worries next time. My guests were so happy with the salad and the delicious dressing they asked me to make it and bring it for Christmas dinner. The dressing is superb. It can be made a day ahead of time if you are in a time crunch at serving time. This is a real keeper of a recipe!
Wonderful salad. I served it with a choice of blue cheese or goat cheese for Thanksgiving dinner and got rave reviews from all!
I made this salad for a potluck. I tripled the recipe and added baby spinach to the mesclun mix. I also added dried cranberries. This salad was a huge hit and several people asked for the recipe.
Fantastic Flavor. But the nuts were extremely sticky and hard to handle until they got into the salad. I used a mix of greens and young spinach leaves and that worked extremely well. Also I didn’t have a shallot so I used finely minced sweet onion and that worked just fine. I would bet chopped chives would also work.
This was a great, simple salad and the dressing had just the right balance. The sugared pecans make it special enough for a dinner party – nice to have one really easy and delicious dish when you have lots of cooking on the go! A keeper!
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!
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.
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!
This salad dressing has become a staple. Love it!!!
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.
I made this for Christmas dinner and added pomegranate seeds for color and extra crunch and taste. Rave reviews!
We made this for Thanksgiving and it was a HIT with our whole family. Thank you!
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* 🙂
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!
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!