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

Tested & Perfected Recipes


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.


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

Servings: 6


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
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 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

  1. 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

  1. 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

  1. 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.

Reviews & Comments

  • 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!

    • — Kelly on October 4, 2018
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  • 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.

    • — Nancy on September 25, 2018
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  • Hi Jenn

    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.

    • — Kathy on July 15, 2018
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    • 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!

      • — Jenn on July 16, 2018
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  • 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.)

    • — Mary on November 30, 2017
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  • Hi Jenn Can I use olive oil instead? thanks so much.

    • — Melissa on November 14, 2017
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    • Hi Melissa, while technically olive oil will work in the dressing, I like vegetable oil here as it is more mild tasting.

      • — Jenn on November 14, 2017
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  • 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

    • — Heather on October 10, 2017
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  • I made this salad for Thanksgiving and it was a great hit! Thank you Jen for the wonderful recipes! Looking forward to more !

    • — Mary Anne on October 8, 2017
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  • 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!

    • — Kristen on September 14, 2017
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  • 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.

    • — Amanda Ward on December 1, 2016
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  • 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?

    • — Barbara on November 22, 2016
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    • 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!

      • — Jenn on November 22, 2016
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  • 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!

    • — Enid on December 22, 2015
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  • Wonderful salad. I served it with a choice of blue cheese or goat cheese for Thanksgiving dinner and got rave reviews from all!

    • — Diana on November 27, 2015
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  • 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.

    • — Roxana on November 24, 2015
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  • 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.

    • — HBolan on December 3, 2014
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  • 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!

    • — Alison on November 16, 2014
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  • 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!

    • — Amy on March 15, 2013
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  • 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.

    • — darcy on October 25, 2012
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  • 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

    • — Peter C on June 22, 2012
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  • This salad dressing has become a staple. Love it!!!

    • — Sheila on March 3, 2012
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  • 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.

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

    • — Didi on December 26, 2010
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  • We made this for Thanksgiving and it was a HIT with our whole family. Thank you!

    • — Gail Cohen on December 5, 2010
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  • 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* 🙂

    • — Chris on November 2, 2009
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  • 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!

    • — Eden on October 5, 2009
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  • 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!

    • — Ivory Chafin on September 29, 2009
    • Reply

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