Winter Pear Salad with a tangy and sweet balsamic dressing is the perfect addition to your holiday meal with sliced pears, cheese, cranberries, and walnuts.
There are always lots of sweets and heavier main dishes during the holiday season. So, it can be nice to add a lighter Side Dish like this simple but delicious salad to balance things out. Winter Pear Salad is easy to make, festive, and great for a Christmas or New Year’s Eve party. For another amazing salad with in-season fruit try our Fruit Salad with Poppyseed Dressing.
WINTER PEAR SALAD
Perfectly ripe pears are a true delight. Their naturally sweet flavor and rich velvety, yet crisp texture make them absolutely irresistible. This seasonal salad is the best way to enjoy them while the fruit is perfectly in season. Although you can find pears at the grocery store year-round, you’ll get the best sweet and tart flavored winter pears during the fall and winter.
Winter pears are slightly different than most fruit because they don’t fully ripen until after they’re harvested. Once the pears are taken from the tree they need 3-4 weeks refrigerated to reach their peak ripeness. At that point, the pears will be perfect in this stunning winter salad. To check if the pears you’re buying are ripe, gently push on the fruit’s neck. If it gives a little, the pears are ripe. If it’s firm, you’ll want to refrigerate them at home until fully ripened.
We’ve added a variety of flavors and textures to the wonderful salad to compliment the pears. There are sweet candied walnuts, cranberries, creamy goat cheese, and it’s all laid out over a simple leafy green base. Then the salad with pears is topped off with a tangy vinaigrette to finish it off with amazing zest.
If you’re serving this salad for a holiday get-together or party put it out with your other favorite party appetizers. It would go great with a winter cheese plate, Roasted Shrimp, or a fruit tray with Homemade Dip.
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TIPS FOR THE PERFECT WINTER SALAD
- Pears: You want to start this recipe by prepping the pears. First, make sure your pears are ripe. Then slice each one in half, and cut out the core before slicing them into thin pieces. Put the pear slices in a bowl and coat them in fresh lemon juice. This is an easy trick to keep them from browning as they sit out.
- Salad: Next, take out your salad bowl. Add the layer of winter salad greens to the base. Then top that off with the pears, cranberries, crunchy walnuts, and a sprinkle of cheese.
- Dressing: The best thing about this recipe is the fresh ingredients, so making your own fresh salad dressing to go with it only makes sense. It’s quick and turns out so much more flavorful than a store-bought vinaigrette. Just, add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper to a separate bowl. Then whisk together the bowl of dressing until combined. Drizzle the vinaigrette over salad right before serving.
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VARIATIONS ON WINTER PEAR SALAD
- Dressing: The great thing about this recipe is that you can make many versatile salads with the same base recipe. An easy way to change up the beautiful salad is by experimenting with the dressing ingredients. For a lemon and poppy seed dressing with a nice tart flavor whisk in 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons poppy seeds. If you want a more tart cider dressing, you can replace the balsamic vinegar with apple cider vinegar. For a slightly more sweet salad, add extra honey according to taste or mix in some dark brown sugar for a deeper sweet flavor.
- Cheese: You can try out a variety of different cheeses over your crisp winter salad instead of goat cheese. Blue cheese, feta cheese, Swiss cheese, or mozzarella would all taste great.
- Add-ins: There are plenty of different tasty mix-ins to experiment with in this salad. You could swap walnuts for a different variety of nuts, or just add the extra nuts alongside the candied walnuts. Almonds, pecans, or pistachios would taste great. You can also toss in some extra fruit like raisins, pomegranate arils, orange slices, or kiwi.
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HOW TO STORE WINTER PEAR SALAD
- Serve: After tossing together this delicious salad recipe, you don’t want to leave it out for more than a couple of hours or it will start to wilt.
- Store: To store Winter Pear Salad, cover it in plastic wrap or put it in an airtight container to store in the fridge. It should stay good for 3-5 days. Unfortunately, the salad won’t freeze well, so after 5 days it’s best to throw a fresh batch together.
- 3 pears
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 10 ounces salad greens
- 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup candied walnuts
- 1/2 cup goat cheese , crumbled
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 clove garlic , finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- Cut the pears in half, core, and thinly slice.
- Add to a bowl and coat with lemon juice to prevent browning.
- In a serving bowl layer lettuce, pears, cranberries, walnuts, and goat cheese.
- Whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper until well blended and set immediately dress the salad.