This Sweet Maple Apple Pecan salad is the best spring salad, also fabulous in the fall, brightens up a dreary winter day and it’s scrumptious for a summer luncheon, okay so truly it’s a salad that fits every season.
Sweet Maple Apple Pecan Salad has subtle flavors of maple, blending beautifully with the crisp tartness of the apples, crunch sweet pecans, sweet strawberries and the creamy goat cheese.
Every time I make this salad people ask for the recipe, I even have a friend who has taken the recipe to her family in New Zealand and it is now spreading all over New Zealand. I love it! An international sensation!
Whether for brunch, luncheon or dinner, this salad compliments so many dishes. I gave the recipe to my sister-in-law a few years back, she L.O.V.E.D. it, in fact she loved it so much my niece called begging me to give her a new salad recipe…because it was all she ever made! LOL!
Assembling Maple Pecan Salad
Grab the ingredients for your maple vinaigrette and pour in a mason jar and shake, shake, shake. (see options below). Go ahead and count that as your arm workout for the day! Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Place mixed spring lettuce (I like baby mixed greens) or other favorite greens into a salad bowl. The small salad containers from the market is perfect, depending on how many you are feeding, this recipe easily doubles or triples for larger crowds.
Slice apple into thin slices and then chop into smaller pieces, no need to peel, more vitamins and fiber that way, but if you must, feel free to peel. My apple preferences are Granny Smith (for tartness) or Honeycrisp (for sweet-tart), but use your fave!
Throw in thinly sliced red onions, I like mine nice and thin, my favorite knife! I like red onions, I just don’t want them overwhelming each bite or take it a notch higher and try these pickled red onions!! They are mildly flavored, without the bite of raw onions. Oh my!
Add candied pecans or try my Simple Low Sugar Candied Nuts. You can buy them, but these are super easy to make and aren’t as sugary as your average brand.
Or even take it up a notch and serve with these crisp, smoky Maple Bourbon Pecans!
Lob in goat cheese (or check out options below), pour desired vinaigrette over the salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately.
MAKE AHEAD TIPS
- Slice apples ahead of time; squeeze in a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice and toss well, refrigerate
- Prep sliced onions, place in a baggie or glass container in fridge
- Measure candied pecans and have ready to toss in salad
- Make your dressing and refrigerate
OPTIONAL MIX-INS OR TRADES:
- Add fresh berries; I used sliced strawberries and pomegranate arils in the salad shown. Fresh boysenberries, blueberries or raspberries would be yummy.
- Instead of candied pecans, use candied walnuts or almonds, macadamia nuts or even plain toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds, or pine nuts.
- Try feta or blue cheese instead of goat cheese.
- Change your vinegar; try white or dark balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar or a wine vinegar (red or white).
- Add shredded cooked chicken to make this a heartier salad for a luncheon
- Sling in a handful of crisp fried bacon bits, now we’re talking!
Toss salad with dressing just before serving, adjusting dressing to size of salad served. Serve immediately.
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Sweet Maple Apple Pecan Salad
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Maple Syrup Vinaigrette
- 3 Tablespoons maple syrup real
- 2 Tablespoons vinegar typically I use red or white wine, but also try white or dark balsamic and even apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup salad oil I like grapeseed oil, olive oil might be too strong
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 small container of mixed baby greens or try chopped romaine
- ¼ – ½ medium red onion sliced very thin, or try my [pickled red onions] (yum!)
- 1 large Granny Smith or Honeycrisp apple, sliced thin and then chopped into bite size pieces
- 1 cup [candied pecans]
- ¼ cup crumbled goat cheese try honey, plain or smoked
Optional Add-Ins or Swaps
- Add fresh sliced strawberries boysenberries, raspberries, even blueberries
- Add pomegranate arils a few tablespoons
- Replace candied pecans for candied walnuts candied sliced/slivered almonds, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds or pepitas.
- Try feta or blue cheese crumbles in place of goat cheese
- Try white or dark balsamic or apple cider vinegar
- Toss in some shredded cooked chicken breast for a heartier salad or bacon bits (or both!!)
- To make vinaigrette, simply combine all ingredients in a salad shaker (or repurpose a jelly jar or mason jar) and shake well until combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Place greens, sliced red onions, sliced & chopped apples (and any other mix-ins) into salad bowl. Add cheese and pecans, pour on dressing to taste and toss. Serve immediately.
- Many people have allergies, so sometimes I offer the nuts and cheese in small bowls on the side for serving, toss everything else and serve with optional toppings.
- Serve with soup or sandwiches or add shredded cooked chicken for a heartier salad