I have had this fabulous salad many times at my good friend Fran’s house.

Although I call it ‘Fran’s Salad’, the original recipe was posted in the Montreal Gazette a few years back. Absolutely easy to make, but I do have one word of advice. Hide the pecans after you make them! I made the pecans the night before and left them out on my kitchen counter.

I asked my husband Charles to ‘Please, don’t touch the pecans. It’s for a salad that I’m bringing to Rona’s (my sister in law) tomorrow!’ Don’t you think that the very next day, at around 4:00 pm, Charles asked me what the pecans were for…operative word is ‘were’!! Half the batch was gone and he tried to put the blame on others in the house!! Luckily I had more pecans and it didn’t take too long to make another batch.

I’d love to hear from you, so please share your variations of goat cheese salad in the comments below.

Salad with Goat Cheese and Crispy Pecans

Ingredients for Crispy Pecans:

  • 2 tbs. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 cups whole pecans

Vinaigrette Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbs. minced shallot
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Salad Ingredients:

  • Mixture of arugula, baby romaine and spinach leaves – quantity depends on how many people are eating the salad
  • 3 Asian pears, unpeeled, cored and diced
  • 1 package of goat cheese, cut into chunks – I used the 10.5 oz size
  • 1 cup pitted dates, cut into slivers
  • 1 cup of crispy pecans

Directions:
Prepare the pecans:
Prepare the pecans a day before or a few hours prior to assembling the salad.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Combine the sugar, cayenne pepper and salt in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the egg white with a whisk until foamy, but not stiff. Add the pecans to the egg mixture and stir to coat. Add the sugar mixture and stir until completely blended. Spread out in a single layer on the lined cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Stir the nuts with a spoon and bake for another 5-7 minutes, watching that they don’t burn. Let cool completely in the pan.

Prepare the Salad:
Whisk all the vinaigrette ingredients together and set aside. In a large serving bowl, toss the lettuces, pears, goat cheese and dates with enough of the vinaigrette to coat. Add the pecans on top and serve immediately.

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