Spicy Duck Salad with Avocado-Tarragon Dressing

I like to awaken my taste buds with spicy flavors and then cool them down with contrasting ingredients like tomatoes and avocados. The choice of lettuce is yours, but I prefer a combination of “spring mix”, a blend of several varieties of young greens and chopped romaine hearts for crunchiness. If you choose to leave the skin on your duck breasts, make sure you place them skin side down in the pan and cook until the skin is crispy. I’m not a big fan of rubbery duck skin.

Spicy Duck Salad with Avocado-Tarragon Dressing


  • 4 boneless duck breast halves skin intact or removed – your choice
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 handfuls mixed greens
  • 2 ripe tomatoes cut into wedges
  • 1/2 red onion thinly sliced into rings
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts lightly toasted in a 325 degree oven


  • 1 egg yolk optional
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 avocado; peeled seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh tarragon chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Season duck liberally with salt and pepper. Combine next 4 ingredients in a plastic bag. Add duck breasts and shake bag to coat evenly. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sear duck breasts on both sides until medium-rare. Remove from pan and let stand for 5 minutes. To prepare dressing, add first 5 ingredients to a blender or food processor and process until smooth. While motor is running, add oil slowly in a thin stream until dressing is smooth and oil is emulsified. Add avocado and tarragon and process until smooth (have I used the word “smooth” enough yet?). Season with salt and pepper.
  • Slice the duck thinly. Place the lettuce in a large bowl and toss with dressing to coat. Use a little dressing at a time. You probably will not need all of the dressing! Place the lettuce on plates. Arrange sliced duck, tomato and onion over lettuce. Top with blue cheese crumbles and pecans.

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