Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nectarine Goat Cheese Salad with Candied Pecans and Pineapple Thyme Dressing - Gluten Free

I love summer for it's fragrant, beautiful fruits. In my opinion nectarines and peaches are at the top of the list. The scent of a ripe nectarine or peach is like no other on earth. Their juices are like nectar from the gods. Because I like these fruits so much, I try to use them in more diverse ways than simply snacking on them whole, or cutting them up to top my morning cereal. My gluten free Nectarine Goat Cheese Salad with Candied Pecan and Pineapple Thyme Dressing is a perfect example of how you can creatively incorporate these special summer fruits into a fantastic light meal. I love this salad for it's natural fruity sweetness and for the unbeatable combination of creamy and crunchy textures. This refreshing gluten free salad contains plenty of protein from the goat cheese and the nuts so I often serve it as a main dish when nectarines are in season. Served in smaller portions it also makes a unique side salad for your favorite entrees. The candied pecans in this recipe are so mind-blowingly good that you may want to make extra to munch on as an indulgent snack the next day (trust me on this one!). Enjoy!

Nectarine Goat Cheese Salad with Candied Pecans and Pineapple Thyme Dressing - Gluten Free

1 bag spring mix salad greens

1 cup pecan halves

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons brown sugar

pinch of salt (or to taste)

4 ripe nectarines

1 log of goat cheese (Plain or flavored goat cheese can be used. I used a flavor called Peppadew which was infused with red piquante peppers; it added a bit of heat to the dish which complimented the sweetness.)

Pineapple Thyme Dressing (recipe to follow)

fresh ground black pepper (to taste)

Toast pecans in a small skillet over medium-low heat stirring constantly until just fragrant but not browned (be careful, once they are fragrant nuts can burn quickly!). Reduce heat to low. Add butter, stirring constantly until melted. Add brown sugar and a pinch of salt, stirring constantly until dissolved and slightly thickened. Immediately remove nuts from skillet and spread on a dinner plate to cool. Meanwhile, prepare the Pineapple Thyme Dressing (recipe to follow) and set aside. Chop the nectarines into bite size pieces. Divide salad greens evenly amongst 4 salad plates. Top with chopped nectarines. Slice the goat cheese into 1/4 inch rounds and distribute evenly on the tops of the salad, slightly overlapping slices. Sprinkle candied pecans over the salads. Drizzle Pineapple Thyme Dressing over each salad. Season salads with fresh ground pepper to taste. Yield: 4 servings

Pineapple Thyme Dressing - Gluten Free

1/4 cup agave nectar

1 1/2 tablespoons crushed pineapple

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/8 teaspoon dried thyme OR 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced

3/4 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Put the agave nectar, pineapple and lemon juice in a blender. Process for 15 seconds or until well blended. With the blender running, SLOWLY pour the olive oil in a THIN stream into the pineapple mixture until dressing emulsifies (it will appear well blended and slightly thickened). Add thyme, salt and pepper. Blend briefly to combine. Yield: approximately 3/4 cup dressing.



  1. My sister was in town recently and made this delicious blueberry-parmesan cheese salad with a slightly sweet vinaigrette. It was wonderful - I am sure this salad has the same basic concept and is scrumptious. Love your pics!

  2. Thanks Amy! Drop me a line and let me know how you like it after you make it. :)

  3. Cinde, This salad looks fabulous! I like the idea of the pineapple dressing. Does it emulsify pretty well as it is, or do you have to use it right away? I have taken to putting mustard seed in any dressing I make since I learned that it's an emulsifier. Beautiful photos!

  4. Thanks Gina! The dressing emulsifies beautifully and remains emulsified even if you store in the fridge for a few days. Enjoy the salad. :)

  5. I adore fruit in salads - but I don't think I've ever tried nectarines! ...Though this may be because I never seem to do anything but eat them straight from the bag...on the way home from the store. If I ever manage to buy enough to prevent this from happening, I'll be making this salad for sure!

    - Dana

  6. I know what you mean Dana... let me know how you like the salad if you can hold onto a few nectarines! :)


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