Black & Blue Spring Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans and Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette


Black & Blue Spring Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans and Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette is a fresh and light, gluten-free side salad. Add shrimp, chicken, or steak to make it a meal.

Black & Blue Spring Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans and Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette |

Someone pinch me, I must be dreaming. Either that or spring is finally on its way!

I predicted the same about a month ago when Ben and I were out on a date night. We were bellied up to the bar of our favorite little tapas place, a champagne martini in my hand, whiskey neat in his, blistered creme brulee with strawberries and freshly whipped cream in front of us. I don’t know if it was the champagne talking, but something took over my body compelling me to proclaim, This is it! The snow is behind us. I can totally feel it! 

Ummm, it literally started snowing no less than 15 minutes later. For the love…

At any rate, it was so warm the other day that we actually had to kick on the AC for a few minutes to cool down the upstairs. Poor Lincoln was sweating through his sleep sack! Which, by the way, how much would you love to sleep in a cozy, fleece sack? There’s a business idea for you. Ben keeps trying to make the mansie happen (the man-sized onsie, if you will,) but I think the adult-sized sleep sack’s got a better chance.


All that to say I’m pretty confident that springy salad days are just around the corner. You know, when the sun is warm and you’re craving something light for lunch or dinner like a big, fresh salad. I’ve got you covered with Black & Blue Spring Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans and Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Black & Blue Spring Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans and Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette |

Homemade (insanely-easy) lightly-sweetened Honey-Roasted Pecans and a luscious, sweet-tart Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette join fresh blackberries and really good crumbled blue cheese on a bed of tender, spring mix lettuce in this elegant appetizer salad. Want to make it a full meal? Add roasted shrimp, grilled chicken, or a juicy steak.

This salad is based on the Market Salad from Whole Foods which combines spring mix lettuce with walnuts, dried cranberries, blue cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette. An awesome combo, for sure, but my take really elevates things. The Honey-Roasted Pecans are totally awesome (I had to make a second batch because I ate the first one before I could photograph the salads!) and using fresh berries instead of dried is a tasty nod to Spring and all the fresh, in-season produce that’s coming our way.

Like I said, this salad is perfect as an appetizer, or add some protein to make it a meal!

Black & Blue Spring Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans and Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette |

Start by making the Honey-Roasted Pecans. I want to slap myself for never knowing how easy honey-roasted nuts are to make. The recipe for ’em is actually from the 31 Meals Cookbook I featured last week!

Simply melt 1/2 Tablespoon butter in a bowl then add 1 Tablespoon honey. Stir to mix then add 1/2 cup pecans and toss to coat.

Black & Blue Spring Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans and Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette |

Spread the nuts onto a silpat or parchment paper-lined baking sheet then bake for 5-6 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the nuts are golden brown and fragrant. Sprinkle lightly with salt when they’re fresh out of the oven then cool completely, after which they’ll have a fabulously light and sweet crunch. You could make these nuts several days ahead of time, by the way.

Black & Blue Spring Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans and Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette |

Next make the Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette, which could also be made ahead of time. It’s actually even better after sitting in the fridge for a bit.

Black & Blue Spring Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans and Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette |

Combine 1/2 cup fresh blackberries (could use blueberries) with 1 Tablespoon sugar in a food processor or blender. Pulse to break the berries up slightly then let them sit and get juicy for a minute or two.

Black & Blue Spring Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans and Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette |

Next add 2 Tablespoons each balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, 1 Tablespoon honey, and salt and pepper. Process or blend until smooth then taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Be warned: this dressing is spoon-drink worthy. So yummy!

Black & Blue Spring Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans and Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette |

Time to turn your attention to zee blue cheese. I used to HATE blue cheese. Like, totally loathed it. Then one day I didn’t. That’s all I got to say about that.

If you still don’t like blue cheese, this salad would be just as good with feta or chevre. I’d actually go with chevre. It’s amazing on salads – kind of melts into the dressing and gets fabulously creamy.

Black & Blue Spring Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans and Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette |

Anyway, I think the reason I didn’t like blue cheese before is because I wasn’t eating the right kind. Investing a few bucks into a good wedge makes all the difference. Maytag blue cheese, which is made locally, is absolutely to die for. Probably why it’s one of the most popular blue cheeses in the country!

Blue cheese is very strong so you’ll only need 3oz for 4 side salads. All you have to do is crumble it up with a fork.

Black & Blue Spring Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans and Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette |

Divide 5oz spring mix lettuce between plates then top with the honey-roasted pecans, blue cheese crumbles, and tons of fresh blackberries. Drizzle with the homemade berry-balsamic vinaigrette, then you’re set!

Black & Blue Spring Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans and Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette |

Black & Blue Spring Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans and Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette

serves 4 as a side salad


Black & Blue Spring Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans and Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette is a fresh and light, gluten-free side salad.


  • 5oz spring mix lettuce
  • 12oz fresh blackberries (could use blueberries)
  • 3oz blue cheese, crumbled (could use chevre or feta cheese)
  • For the Honey-Roasted Pecans:
    • 1/2 cup pecans
    • 1/2 Tablespoon butter
    • 1 Tablespoon honey
    • salt
  • For the Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette:
    • 1/2 cup fresh blackberries
    • 1 Tablespoon sugar
    • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 Tablespoon honey
    • salt and pepper


  1. For the Honey-Roasted Pecans: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a bowl then add honey and pecans. Toss to coat then spread out on a silpat or parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 5-6 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant (watch carefully so they don't burn.) Sprinkle lightly with salt then set aside and let cool completely (can be made ahead of time.)
  2. For the Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette: Add blackberries and sugar to a food processor or blender then process or blend until berries are crushed. Let sit for a minute then add remaining ingredients and process or blend until smooth. Set aside (can be made ahead of time.)
  3. Divide lettuce between plates then top with blackberries, blue cheese crumbles, and honey-roasted pecans. Dress with berry-balsamic vinaigrette then serve.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,

Black & Blue Spring Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans and Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette |

Like I said, this salad is the perfect starter for a meal or would make a killer entree salad with the addition of grilled or sauteed shrimp, chicken, or steak. I vote for steak. Blue cheese + steak? Winning!

Black & Blue Spring Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans and Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette |

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  1. Medeja 04.02.2014

    This salad looks fantastic! I just love the ingredients.. pecans, blue cheese, blackberries.. yummy!

  2. I cannot wait to make this. I love a good salad! Blackberries have been so good lately.

  3. Bring on the spring salads! This is my favorite kind of salad: greens, a fruit, a nut, and some soft cheese. Yes.

  4. Lauren 04.02.2014

    Oh yum! I love blackberries in my salad! Actually any kind of berry in my salad is fine by me.

  5. Chicago Jogger 04.02.2014

    This looks amazing! I’m going to try your vinaigrette trick with berries soon.

  6. chad 04.02.2014

    Not a big fan of the fruit in the salad. But the recipe we really need is a creamy garlic, or creamy parmesan dressing that the Des Moines area restaurants are famous for. I have looked high and low and can not find anything close.

  7. I love this salad. I make something similar with strawberries but I am loving blackberries right now so I will so have to try this!

  8. Sounds absolutely delightful! We go and pick a bunch of blackberries at a local patch, I’ll be saving this recipe for later!

  9. Laura S 04.02.2014

    Ok, I didn’t know what the heck a sleep sack was so I just googled it quick and according to google images, there are adult sleep sacks…christmas idea! lol

  10. I love the Market Salad from WF! I have a feeling this would be even more amazing!

  11. This is my favorite type of salad! Anything to please my sweet tooth, right!

  12. What a gorgeous spring salad! I can’t get enough berries, but I never thought to top greens with them!

  13. I keep getting fooled by the almost-spring days we are having, too! I just know it’s got to get warm and stay that way soon, right?! Anyway, this salad looks fantastic. I love berries and blue cheese together.

  14. Tia 04.02.2014

    My boyfriend and I live in Chicago and it’s STILL in the 30s. We always ask ourselves why we live here. I’m from Georgia and he’s from North Carolina.

  15. Lisa 04.02.2014

    “Used to hate it, and one day I didnt”…bah! ha! Ha! Crack me up. I’m still in the NOT like it camp, but you are right–chevre would be fab!

  16. Laura 04.02.2014

    Looks delicious. I live in Des Moines – what’s the tapas place you spoke about? Would love to go check it out.

    • Lisa 04.02.2014

      Yes, this! I love tapas…where in DSM are we talking about?

    • Kristin 04.02.2014

      Trostel’s Dish!

  17. Meaghan Voigt 04.02.2014

    I live in Wisconsin and we are waiting….waiting…still waiting for Spring! Maybe after the winter weather advisory we have tomorrow morning. Ugh.
    This salad looks fabulous…especially the dressing! Yummmm!

  18. Nancy 04.02.2014

    I’ve got to buy myself some feta (not blue) cheese, and blackberries. All the other ingredients I already have. Yum.

  19. Kayla 04.02.2014

    Have you ever done a DSM area restaurant guide post? When you mentioned your favorite tapas place, I immediately wondered what that was :).

    • Brooke 04.02.2014

      I second this idea!

    • Kristin 04.02.2014

      It’s funny you say that because I’m working on a Des Moines restaurant pinterest board right now! :)

  20. katie 04.02.2014

    Can’t wait to try this salad! Have you tried making the dressing with other berries? I am loaded up with strawberries right now. Do you think they would work?

  21. Teffy 04.02.2014

    I’ve never been one to add berries to my salad, no idea why! I do love the combination of pecans and salad though, so might need to give this berry one a go!

    {Teffy’s Perks} X

  22. Lisa 04.02.2014

    This looks a bit weird to me with the berets added in. But it looks different and is love to try it because it’s different.
    L x

  23. Alexandra Aimee 04.02.2014

    Wow, this looks delicious! Especially the dressing. Yum!

    — Alex at Cashmere Kangaroo

  24. Candy 04.02.2014

    That salad looks really good!! I’m with you on the sleep sack…the twin girls that I nanny for luv their sleep sacks….so cozy!!

  25. Debt girl 04.02.2014

    This looks light and refreshing! I hope you get your sunshine soon!!!!

  26. I must have this! Your salad is simply gorgeous! Pinning!

  27. Meaghan Voigt 04.03.2014

    We made this salad for dinner last night! I used a mixture of raspberries & blackberries, and used meyer lemon olive oil in the dressing. I doubled the dressing recipe and used half to marinate chicken breasts, then grill them. It was amazing! My 7 & 4 year old boys gobbled it up! Watch how many pecans you make…they were addicting! We had to have turtle sundaes for dessert with the extras I made!

  28. Ginny 04.03.2014

    Just used those nuts mixed with roasted butternut squash and goat cheese. So good it hurts!

  29. Jenny 04.03.2014

    Should the pecans be raw, or can they be roasted?

    • Kristin 04.04.2014

      Mine were raw – sorry, should have specified in the recipe!

  30. Ashley 04.03.2014

    I love this! It looks so healthy and delicious! Such a staple of IGE!


  31. […] berries delicious this time of year? I can’t wait to try this recipe with our fresh blackberries. […]

  32. Reyna 04.03.2014

    This looks so good! Just found your blog and I recently moved to Iowa from Los Angeles! It’s a big change but it’s pretty cool. Can’t wait to try some of your recipes :)

  33. […] Love last-hurrah winter meal, I am now good and ready to lighten up.  Starting with this delicious Black and Blue Spring Salad with Honey Roasted Pecans and Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette. […]

  34. […] to go on everything. Artful polenta. 12 knockout Bread Pudding recipes. Yummy looking Spring salad. Spring inspired skillet pizza. A gaggle of Spring veggie recipes. This lovely pie. Casserole of […]

  35. […] share with you four recipes that I’m super excited to try! Let’s start with a beautiful Spring salad. Honey-roasted pecans, blackberries and blue cheese?? I’m […]

  36. Wow, this is gorgeous! Love the bright colors. Fresh berries are so wonderful on top of a salad – especially blackberries. That vinaigrette looks awesome, too!

  37. dick bennett 04.20.2014

    interesting once again almost no one has prepared the recipe only commented on there impressions of reading the recipe.

    On the berries do you use 1/2 on the salad dressing as described in the section on salad dressing and an additional 12 oz as garnish for the salad. Or do you use a total of 12 oz and used what is left over from the dressing as garnish. 3 0z of berry garnish per salad is about 15 blackberries per salad which seems alot.

    • Kristin 04.21.2014

      Use the entire dressing recipe to dress the entire salad – there might be some leftover, it just depends on how much dressing you like on your salads.

  38. Randi 04.22.2014

    I bet this would be delish with a piece of seared salmon on top!!

  39. […] was a salad. I was inspired by this recipe, by Kristin at Iowa Girl Eats. She inspired me to try spaghetti squash, maple-soy salmon, simple […]

  40. […] Recipe and Photo credit to […]

  41. Sherry 06.21.2014

    I’m making this salad for our Dinner Group tonight but the pecans are quite sticky and not as toasted as I had thought they should be. Does that seem right? Although they’ve already cooled I’m putting them back in to try to get them more toasty. I had tripled the recipe so it seemed like maybe I had too much of the butter and honey mixture on the pan. I’ve transferred them to a fresh silpat leaving the excess mixture off. Hoping that will do the trick. Any thoughts or tips for me?

    • Kristin 06.21.2014

      It sounds like maybe there were too many on one pan and they steamed instead of baked. If you pop them back in in a few smaller batches hopefully that should help!

      • Sherry 06.23.2014

        Transferring them to a new silpat with less of the honey mixture and retoasting them did the trick. Everyone loved the salad! Thanks so much for sharing your inspirations :)

        • Kristin 06.26.2014

          Oh good! So glad they worked out in the end!

  42. […] 2. Black & Blue Spring Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans and Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette via Iowa Girl Eats […]

  43. […] a springtime salad? I am a huge berry fan, so this look so good to me.  It’s a beautiful Black & Blue Spring Salad from Kristin at Iowa Girl Eats. It’s almost too pretty to […]

  44. Michelle 07.04.2015

    Just tried this recipe for a 4th of July party– hope everyone likes it! I did notice though that my dressing came put a lot darker than yours and quite a but thickrr– it’s almost a smoothie consistency rather than a vinaigrette dressing. Any suggestions on what may have gone wrong or that I could change for the futute?

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