- Food: Pear Salad with Balsamic and Walnuts
- Writer: Nicolas Wilson
- Content-Type: Food Blog
In this pear salad recipe, sweet, juicy pears are balanced by a tart balsamic vinaigrette. It’s a fantastic fall side dish because it’s simple, elegant, and tasty.
This dish for pear salad highlights some of the fall food that we don’t talk about enough. We’re going to forget about apples and squash for a moment.
Crisp fennel, soft greens, and sweet, juicy pears beckon you to eat them this time of year. These three autumn ingredients combine to make a salad that is simple, tasty, and beautiful. It’s sophisticated enough for a special occasion supper, but it’s so simple to prepare that you’ll cook it for regular meals and lunches as well.
The salad’s rich, nutty taste and crunch come from chopped pecans, walnuts, and hazelnuts, and the acidic balsamic vinaigrette wonderfully complements the sweet pears.
This pear salad recipe is a show-stopping fall side dish thanks to the fresh pears, almonds, and dressing. I believe you will enjoy it!
Ingredients for Pear Salad
This pear salad has a lot of different textures and flavors, yet it only requires a few basic ingredients:
- Pears in season! Before you create this salad, make sure the pears are ripe; the delicious, juicy pears are what set it apart.
- Use any delicate greens you choose in place of the mixed greens. I usually use a mix of baby kale, spinach, and chard in this pear salad, but baby lettuce or arugula would also be excellent.
- One of my favorite fall vegetables is fennel. It gives this fall pear salad a crisp taste and a slight licorice flavor.
- Dried cranberries — They give a chewy texture as well as sweet and tart flavor bursts.
- Pecorino cheese, shaved — It provides a salty, rich contrast to the sweet pears and cranberries.
- You could create this salad with just one variety of nuts, but I couldn’t decide between walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts! I like to use all three in this recipe since they each have a distinctly rich, nutty flavor.
- A tart finish with balsamic vinaigrette!
Recipe Suggestions for Pear Salad
- Purchase the pears in advance. Pears, like peaches, generally require a few days on the counter to fully ripen. Plan ahead of time if you can when making this salad. The pears can be purchased up to a week ahead of time and kept at room temperature. Place them in the fridge once they’ve softened until you’re ready to create the dish.
- Squeeze the pears with lemon juice after they’ve been sliced. It adds a burst of flavor to the salad while also preventing the pears from oxidizing (browning). The pears, even with the lemon juice, will not stay fresh and brilliant indefinitely. Make every effort to slice them right before you consume them.
- Using a mandoline, thinly slice the fennel. I slice the fennel as finely as possible whenever I make a fennel salad. It retains a crisp bite while remaining supple enough to blend and mingle with the other components. I used a mandoline to cut the fennel into paper-thin pieces. It’s simple and quick, and the slices turn out crisp and tender. I strongly advise purchasing one; you’ll find yourself utilizing it regularly! Otherwise, use a sharp knife to delicately slice the fennel.
This pear salad dish is delicious as described, but as with all of my salad recipes, it’s adaptable! Feel free to adapt it to your preferences or use any ingredients you have on hand. To get you started, here are a few suggestions:
- Switch the fruits around. Can’t seem to find any pears? Instead, use thinly sliced Gala or Honeycrisp apples! If dried cranberries aren’t your thing, try pomegranate arils or dried cherries in your salad instead.
- Fennel should be roasted. The raw fennel gives this simple autumn salad a lovely sharp bite, but the rich, caramelized flavor of roasted fennel would also be delicious. Try roasting all of the fennel or making this fennel salad in two different ways!
- Replace the cheese. Replace the pecorino with shaved Parmesan or crumbled goat cheese, gorgonzola, or another blue cheese on top of your salad.
- Change the greens. Instead of baby greens, use massaged kale as the base for this salad.
Suggestions for Serving Pear Salad
This recipe for pear salad is a beautiful fall side dish. It would be a wonderful addition to a Thanksgiving or holiday feast, especially when served alongside classics like sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, and mashed potatoes.
But you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to cook this pear salad! It’s a terrific quick compliment to any fall or winter meal because it’s so simple to create.
It’s delicious with a cup of butternut squash soup for lunch, and it’s a great side dish for vegetarian main dishes like these:
- Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta
- Creamy Mushroom Polenta
- Kale Fettuccine Alfredo
- Margherita Pizza (or any handmade pizza!)
- Easy Baked Ziti
- Vegetarian Lasagna
- Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Easy Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Pear Salad with Balsamic and Walnuts
|Time to Prepare: 10 minutes
This recipe for pear salad is a beautiful fall side dish! It’d be a perfect complement to a Thanksgiving or holiday dinner because it’s simple, elegant, and tasty.
- 4 cups mixed salad greens
- 2 ripe pears, sliced
- 1 fennel bulb, sliced paper-thin
- Lemon wedge
- 1 tablespoon chopped pecans
- 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
- 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
- 1 tablespoon chopped hazelnuts, or more pecans or walnuts
- ⅓ cup shaved pecorino
- Balsamic Vinaigrette, for drizzling
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Assemble the salad by layering the mixed greens, pears, and fennel on top. Toss the pears and fennel with a squeeze of lemon.
- Cranberries, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pecorino are sprinkled on top. Drizzle balsamic vinaigrette on top. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
I like to make this using a mandolin slicer.