Grilled Plum Salad with Brandy Mint Vinaigrette

plumsaladI love plums. Love them. They are so versatile, good both savory and sweet. I also love a good salad and am always willing to try something new in this arena as well.

The key to a decent dressing is good olive oil. There is no question it elevates the salad to new heights. It can also mercilessly drag it down when not up to par. A good extra-virgin olive oil is key to this Grilled Plum Salad with Brandy-Mint Vinaigrette. The ingredients are few, so quality matters.

When I made the dressing, I sort of felt like it needed something else, another flavor. But then I stepped back and looked at the other ingredients going into this salad; bacon, grilled plums, goat cheese, toasted pecans and peppery arugula. I decided to hold off adding anything and I’m glad I did.

This salad exploded with flavor. A bite with plum, cheese, arugula, nut and vinaigrette….yum. However, it’s definitely a grown up salad with the brandy addition. The perfect starter for a special dinner.

Try it for yourself when you have some time. 

Grilled Plum Salad with Brandy Mint Vinaigrette
Adapted from the San Francisco Chronicle

2 Tablespoons brandy
1 Tablespoon Meyer lemon juice (you can substitute regular lemons but the taste will be sharper & more acidic)
1 Tablespoon honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
5 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the plums
1 Tablespoon thinly sliced (chiffonade) mint
4 plums
1 bunch baby arugula
1/2 pound bacon, fried and crumbled
1/4 cup goat cheese
1/4 cup pecans, toasted

In a heavy pan fry bacon until crispy. Place sliced plums tossed with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper on a grill pan, flesh side down. Cook 2-3 minutes until grill marks form.

In a bowl or shaking vessel, mix together brandy, lemon juice and honey. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Drizzle in 5 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil while whisking constantly, or put in a vessel and shake vigorously. Add mint and set aside.

Arrange arugula on a platter and top with the grilled plums, flesh side up. Dollop with creamy goat cheese and sprinkle with pecans. Drizzle with vinaigrette and crumbled bacon.


Cathy owns a vineyard and winery in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  She is a food writer forDavis Life Magazine and blogs daily about wine, food and everyday living.  She lives with her husband and two sons.  You can visit her at