Did you all have a good weekend?  Mine was full to the brim with good things.  Lots of fun time with the kids, nice weather for playing outside, a beautiful wedding of a friend of many years, and time cooking with some other great friends.  Oh, and there was lots of great food, including this salad.  It was definitely a highlight, even amongst all that goodness.  So much so that I couldn’t wait even a few days to share it with you.

A few weeks ago I attended a dinner for work and ordered a starter salad similar to this.  Rarely if ever is the salad the highlight of my meal, but that evening it was.  I have been wanting to recreate it at home ever since, so this weekend I finally made it happen.  As much as I loved the restaurant version, this was way better.  In fact, this is the new reigning favorite salad in my world – kind of a big deal.  The fresh blackberries, blackberry vinaigrette, creamy goat cheese and spiced nuts are each fairly simple elements but they combine to make a pretty extraordinary salad.  If you can find honey goat cheese in your store, I highly recommend using it.  It’s kind of amazing.  I predict more future recipes highlighting this fabulous cheese…oh yes, I do.

  • Yield about 4-6 servings


For the dressing: 

  • 6 oz. fresh blackberries, rinsed
  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1½ tbsp. honey
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the spiced nuts: 

  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Dash of ground ginger
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ¾ cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

To assemble: 

  • Mixed salad greens
  • 2 oz. honey goat cheese
  • About 6 oz. fresh blackberries
  • Thinly sliced vidalia onion


  • 01

    To make the dressing, place the berries in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.  Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve, pressing out as much fruit puree as possible while removing the seeds.  In a liquid measuring cup or jar, combine the blackberry puree with the vinegar, honey, and olive oil.  Whisk vigorously until the mixture is well blended and smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Chill until ready to use.

  • 02

    To make the spiced nuts, melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste.  Allow the mixture to heat for about 1 minute, then stir in the chopped nuts.  Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are lightly toasted, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool.

  • 03

    To serve, plate portions of salad greens on salad plates.  Top with crumbled goat cheese, fresh blackberries, vidalia onion and the spiced nuts as desired.  Drizzle lightly with the blackberry vinaigrette.  Serve immediately.