Warm weather demands blackberry goat cheese salad, complete with candied pecans and blackberry-red wine vinaigrette. Now that’s a salad of summer daydreams!
I love a GOOD salad.
Notice how I capitalized GOOD? I mean, I assume you noticed. I basically shouted the word at you. But only because it’s really important.
It’s hard to say, “I love salad,” with no shouting of GOOD, and still be taken seriously. Especially for the Ready To Yumble crew, after we brought you these Nutella Stuffed Peanut Butter Blondies and these Cheesy Bacon Twists with Puff Pastry. Salad sounds anticlimactic, a let-down, a begrudging nod to sacrificing flavor for health.
…Ah, not so, friends! At least, not in the case of a GOOD salad. We wouldn’t expose you to a sad, blah mess of lettuce and dried out carrots. No, today we bring you a salad that’s so flavorful and rich – can I use the word “rich” to describe a salad? OK I’m going for it – that I actually crave it.
It’s a Blackberry Goat Cheese Salad, and it’s GOOD.
In fact, we served this salad at a dinner party a few months ago – the same dinner party where we served this Oreo Layer Cake, along with some of our other favorite dishes – and my brother-in-law declared this salad was his favorite part of the meal. If that’s not a truly meaningful endorsement, I don’t know what is. Especially because dudes are not known for declaring their love for a salad. Yeah, it’s that kind of good.
Luckily, this Blackberry Goat Cheese Salad does borrow one thing from a traditional salad:
It’s easy to throw together.
That’s the main benefit of salads, right? Well that, and they help you save room for dessert.
There are just a few components to this recipe, and they can be made in advance for maximum ease of eating.
First, there are some candied pecans.
(Yes, my salad involves candy. Problem? Nope.) They’re crispy and salty and sweet and just a teensy bit spicy. In other words, WAY better than those sunflower seeds your local salad place throws in your bowl. They take just a few minutes to make, and you can store them at room temperature for a day or two if you’re prepping ahead of time.
Then, the blackberry vinaigrette.
This stuff is totally drinkable. There’s enough acidity to cut through the sweet blackberry, and a dose of black pepper gives it a final savory flourish.
Other than that, you just toss a few items together – your favorite greens, chopped red onion, blackberries, and honey goat cheese – and you’re ready to chow down. (BTW, “chowing down” is underused in referring to salads, and this is the perfect salad to rectify that situation.) The honey goat cheese is truly a perfect match for the other ingredients, but if it’s not available in your grocery store, regular goat cheese is also really tasty. Maybe add an extra drizzle of honey to your dressing if you substitute.
Are you a salad lover? Hater? Have you tried THIS salad? Was it GOOD? Let us know in the comments! (Seriously, let us know. We have a reputation to uphold.)
Adapted from Annie’s Eats.
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar
- ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. ground ginger
- Dash of cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ¾ cup chopped pecans
- 6 oz. blackberries (fresh is best, but you can use frozen too - just thaw and drain)
- 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1½ tbsp. honey
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 8-12 cups salad greens of your choice (try spinach or mixed spring greens)
- 3 oz. honey goat cheese (can substitute regular goat cheese)
- 6 oz. fresh blackberries (you really do need fresh for this part!)
- ¼ of a red onion, thinly sliced
- Melt the butter in a small skillet and add the sugar and spices. Cook for a minute, then add the chopped pecans and stir to coat.
- Cook pecans until toasted, about five minutes, watching carefully so they don't burn.
- Remove from heat and let cool. Nuts can be stored in an airtight container for a day or two.
- Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.
- Pour the mixture through a mesh sieve, pressing down to squeeze out all the juice.
- Store vinaigrette in the fridge until ready to use.
- Place a good handful of greens on each plate. Top with blackberries, onions, crumbled goat cheese, and pecans. Add vinaigrette to taste.
In a fruity mood? Top off that salad with some cherry clafoutis for dessert – easy, creamy, and perfect for summer!