Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fall Harvest Pear Salad

An alternate title for this post could be "My Favorite Salad."  I've been making this salad for probably 4-5 years now, so I thought it was high time I shared it with you.  It is pretty much my go-to salad between the months of September to March, and I have taken it to countless dinners and parties as well.  One of my favorite lunches is this salad served with a baked sweet potato.  The general make-up of the salad is dark leafy greens, dried cranberries, sliced pears, a crumbly cheese, and toasted pecans, held together by a light raspberry vinaigrette.

There are also countless variations.  Sometimes I use pralined pecans for extra sweetness.  I mix up the cheeses depending upon my mood and what I have in the fridge - goat cheese is my favorite, but I also like blue cheese and feta.  You don't have to use pecans either - slivered almonds are great, as are walnuts.  Raisins can be used instead of dried cranberries.  And you could even use a sliced apple instead of a pear.  I've used a mixture of red wine vinegar and balsamic in a pinch, but I prefer to use raspberry or pomegranate - I like the extra sweetness, and it's a little milder in flavor.  I got really crazy last week and added some cubes of roasted butternut squash.  If I want to make meal out of it, I love serving rosemary grilled chicken breasts over the salad - add a crusty roll or some bread, and it's even a nice enough dinner to serve company.

Feel free to play around with the quantities of the components.  I rarely measure anything; I just toss in however much you want. These are just estimates. No matter how you build your salad, or how you serve it, this is a huge crowd-pleaser!

Fall Harvest Pear Salad
Pink Parsley Original

Raspberry Vinaigrette
  • 2 Tbs raspberry preserves
  • 2-3 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup raspberry or sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp Herbes de Provence
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/8-1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 oz mixed greens
  • 4 oz baby spinach or arugula
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 2-3 Tbs dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecans
  • 1-2 ripe but firm pears, sliced
To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the raspberry preserves, mustard, vinegar, herbs, salt, sugar, and pepper.  Pour in the olive oil in a slow and steady stream, whisking constantly.

In a large bowl, toss the greens lightly with the dressing, reserving some for later.  Top with dried cranberries, cheese, and pecans.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.  Fan the pears over the top of the salad, and drizzle with more dressing if desired (You definitely don't have to use all the dressing.  It will keep well in the refrigerator for later use).


Slice of Southern said...

Perfect for fall. This looks so tasty!

Made in Sonoma said...

My favorite salad is very similar to this one but I should try yours! Looks amazing!

Anonymous said...

Love this salad! It sounds so yummy.

Amy said...

I love the combination of pears, nut, cranberries and cheese in a salad. It's so good.

Delia said...

I can't wait to make this! This looks like a perfect lunch for the fall.

Nicole, RD said...

I am craving "detox from the weekend" foods right now and this looks perfect. Especially with that raspberry vinagirette...yum!

Laura said...

Yum. Been looking for some more autumnal salad ideas. Trying this one soon, we love pear!

Christin said...

My favorite salad is very similar to this, but I make a salad dressing with pure maple syrup, dijon mustard, a little lemon juice, and olive oil. And sometimes I halve some red grapes and throw them in. They taste just as wonderful as the pears with blue cheese.

Cate said...

A restaurant in my college town served a similar salad and I probably ate a thousand of them over the course of my college career. Definitely excited about trying out the raspberry dressing!

kyleen said...

I'm loving salads right now and this looks delicious and sounds so versatile. Great salad combo!

Michelle said...

I made this with a maple shallot vinaigrette recently. Fall, indeed! I'm going to try it with the roasted butternut squash.

Anonymous said...

Also delicious in the summer months with dried cherries! So yummy!

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