Impress your guests this holiday season with this loaded Pear Salad. It’s a decadent appetizer packed with fresh pears, pomegranate seeds, walnuts, and gorgonzola cheese.
It’s true that every grand holiday meal could use a salad. The crisp, fresh veggies can help break up the hearty bites of turkey, gravy, cornbread stuffing, and green bean casserole while adding extra nutrition to the meal. But just because it’s a salad doesn’t mean it has to be boring.
This Pear Salad recipe is anything but boring. You’ll find all sorts of fall and winter ingredients here, like sliced pears, creamy gorgonzola cheese, pomegranate, and walnuts. All layered on a bed of greens and dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette, it’s an appetizer that’s sure to bring some excitement to the table.
- A simple and easy-to-put-together salad with an elegant, eye-catching presentation.
- It’s loaded with all kinds of fall and winter goodies, like pears, walnuts, gorgonzola, and pomegranate.
- The simple balsamic vinaigrette finishes it off, adding a bright and tangy element to each bite.
Greens - I like to use mixed greens or arugula for pear gorgonzola salad because they add a pop of color and a peppery bite. If you want, feel free to use baby spinach, romaine, or kale instead.
Pears - Use green or red pears, or a mix of both to play with the colors.
Walnuts - Besides being a fantastic source of antioxidants, omega-3s, and can improve your gut microbiome, walnuts are responsible for the crunch and earthiness in every bite. Feel free to replace them with any other nut you like, such as almonds or pecans.
Dates - You can use deglet or medjool, just make sure to remove the pit beforehand.
Gorgonzola cheese - This is a type of blue cheese with notes of butter and cream and a subtle acidity. Its unique flavors pair perfectly with fresh pears and add a creamy and tangy spin to the salad. If you aren’t the world’s biggest blue cheese fan, choose a younger gorgonzola as the higher aged varieties are much more pungent.
Pomegranate seeds - You can buy the seeds on their own or learn how to de-seed the pomegranate yourself using this mess-free method.
Balsamic dressing - A really simple dressing made from olive oil, balsamic vinegar, shallots, salt, and pepper. You can add maple syrup to the dressing to add a sweet element as well.
Step 1: Assemble the greens and toppings. Place the leafy greens on a serving platter or in a large salad bowl. Top with the pears, walnuts, cheese, dates, and pomegranate.
Step 2: Make the dressing. Whisk the olive oil, balsamic, shallot, salt, and pepper together in a bowl or jar.
Step 3: Assemble. Drizzle the salad dressing over the salad and enjoy immediately.
Tips and FAQs
- You can omit the walnuts or serve them on the side if you or your guests have an aversion to nuts.
- Same goes for the cheese. It’s a great way to make your vegan or dairy free guests happy!
- While balsamic vinaigrette pairs best with the pear and walnut salad, you can swap it for my homemade dijon dressing instead.
What else can you add to a pear salad?
Lots! Zhuzh up this fall salad with any hearty, seasonal ingredients you like. Any of these additions would be a great match:
- Meat: Bacon, prosciutto, or shredded turkey.
- Cheese: Parmesan, feta, or goat cheese.
- Fruit and vegetables: Figs, apple slices, fried brussels sprouts, or fennel.
- Garnishes: Dried cranberries, pistachios, almonds, dried cherries, pecans, or pumpkin seeds.
Can you make it ahead of time?
The salad is best when it’s served immediately after it’s assembled. If you need to save some time, you can (1) mix the dressing together and keep it in a jar in the fridge, or (2) prepare the salad toppings and store them in separate airtight containers in the fridge.
What do you serve with a pear salad?
The salad makes for a light and refreshing start to a larger holiday meal. Serve it right before you bring out the Thanksgiving turkey, mashed potatoes, and maple roasted carrots. Or, for something a little lighter, serve the salad next to a brie grilled cheese or a bowl of creamy cauliflower soup.
More fall salad recipes
If you made this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and star rating below. Thanks!
Pear Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 5 oz. mixed greens or arugula
- 2 pears sliced
- ⅔ cup walnuts chopped
- 4 dates pitted and sliced
- ¼ cup gorgonzola cheese crumbled
- 2 tablespoon pomegranate seeds
for the vinaigrette:
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoon shallot roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- pinch of salt and pepper
- Place mixed greens on a platter or in a large bowl, then add the pears, walnuts, dates, cheese, and pomegranate seeds.
- Next, make the dressing: whisk the olive oil, balsamic, shallot, mustard, salt, and pepper together. You can also blend in a blender if you prefer.
- Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and enjoy immediately!
UPDATE NOTE: This post was originally published in September 2016. It was updated with new text and photos in October 2022.