Salad with Goat Cheese, Pears, Candied Pecans and Maple-Balsamic Dressing

Prep Time 10 min.
Cook Time 0 min.
Total Time 10 minutes
Yields About 11 cups

Ingredients

    Salad

    • 5 ounces of mixed gourmet/spring greens
    • 1 pear (such as d'Anjou), cored and chopped (to equal about 1 1/4 cups) (see note)
    • 1 cup glazed, candied pecans (see note)
    • 2/3 cup dried cherries (or cherry-flavored Craisins)
    • 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

    Dressing

    • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon smooth dijon mustard
    • a pinch (about 1/16 teaspoon) kosher salt

    Directions

    1. Place greens in a large serving bowl (or divide it among individual salad plates).
    2. Sprinkle pears, pecans, cherries, and goat cheese over top of greens.
    3. For dressing, whisk together balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, olive oil, mustard, and salt until emulsified.
    4. Dress salad just before serving, or pass the dressing at the table.

    by

    Recipe Notes

    Pears: Firmer pears work best for this recipe. D'Anjou is our top choice, but feel free to sub in your favorite variety, or whatever looks most wonderfully flavorful and juicy at your market.

    Candied pecans: We definitely recommend using our super-easy recipe for 5-Minute, 4-Ingredient Candied Pecans. They add just the right amount of sweetness without going overboard on the sugar or adding corn syrup, butter, or other less-healthy ingredients. Alternately, if you use purchased candied pecans, be sure to read the ingredient lists and nutrition labels to find the best possible option.

    Make-ahead tips: The dressing can be made a day or two in advance and kept, covered, in the refrigerator. If you're planning on making your own candied pecans (using our recipe), those can also be made in advance. For a little extra time-savings, look for already-crumbled goat cheese (which is also a bit less messy), rather than the little 4-ounce logs that you'll need to crumble yourself.

    Serving tips: This salad is literally loaded with toppings, which is exactly how my family likes it best. Feel free to tweak the exact proportions to suit your family's tastes. Also, if you're going to serve the salad buffet-style and want to pre-dress it, it's important to add the dressing just prior to serving, so the greens don't wilt upon standing too long. Also, when pre-dressing the salad, you may want to reserve some of the dressing and offer it at the side, as some people prefer their salads more lightly dressed than others.

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