Pear Salad with Balsamic and Walnuts

Sweet, juicy pears balance a tangy balsamic vinaigrette in this pear salad recipe. Simple, elegant, and delicious, it's a perfect autumn side dish.

pear salad recipe

This pear salad recipe celebrates some of the fall produce that we don’t talk about often enough. For just a moment, we’re all going to forget about apples and squash. This is the season of crisp fennel, tender greens, and sweet, juicy pears that just beg you to eat them. Together, these three fall ingredients create a salad that’s simple, flavorful, and gorgeous. It’s elegant enough for a special occasion meal, but it’s so easy to make that you’ll toss it together for everyday dinners and lunches too.

(This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Jewel-Osco. All opinions are 100% my own).

Of course, there’s more to this salad than just greens, fennel, and pears. I round it out with a few wholesome ingredients from Jewel-Osco’s Open Nature® line. I grew up in the Chicago area, so I’ve been going to Jewel since I first started getting groceries with my mom as a kid. Lately, I’ve been especially impressed with Jewel’s Open Nature options. They include a wide range of minimally-processed products at great prices, including plant-based and gluten-free staples like raw nuts, specialty flours, and salad dressings.

Open Nature’s chopped pecans, walnuts, and hazelnuts add rich, nutty flavor and crunch to this salad, and their tangy balsamic vinaigrette perfectly balances the sweet pears. Along with the fresh produce, the nuts and dressing make this pear salad recipe a show-stopping autumn side dish. I think you’re going to love it!

Pear Salad Recipe Ingredients

Pear Salad Recipe Ingredients

This pear salad recipe is packed with varied textures and flavors, but it only calls for a handful of basic ingredients:

  • Fresh pears! Make sure they’re ripe before you make this salad; sweet, juicy pears are what make it exceptional.
  • Mixed greens – Use whatever tender greens you like best! I often make this pear salad recipe with a mix of baby kale, spinach, and chard, but baby lettuces or arugula would also be delicious.
  • Fennel – One of my favorite fall veggies! It adds a crisp bite and mild licorice flavor to this autumn pear salad.
  • Dried cranberries – They add chewy texture and sweet/tart pops of flavor.
  • Shaved pecorino cheese – It offers a rich, salty contrast to the sweet pears and cranberries.
  • Chopped hazelnuts, walnuts, and pecans – Sure, you could make this salad with just one type of nut, but I couldn’t pick between the Open Nature walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts! Each one has a unique rich, nutty flavor, so I love using all three in this recipe.
  • Balsamic vinaigrette – A tangy finishing touch! Using the Open Nature vinaigrette makes this salad super easy to put together (just slice the pears and fennel and toss everything together!). I also love that the dressing is made with simple ingredients like balsamic vinegar, oil, onion, garlic, and salt.

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Shaved fennel with a mandoline

Pear Salad Recipe Tips

  • Buy the pears ahead of time. Like peaches, pears often need a few days on the counter to ripen fully. If you can, plan ahead when you make this salad. Buy the pears up to a week in advance and store them at room temperature. When they’re soft, pop them in the fridge until you’re ready to make the recipe.
  • After you slice the pears, squeeze them with lemon juice. It gives the salad an extra boost of bright flavor, and it prevents the pears from oxidizing, or turning brown. But even with the lemon juice, the pears won’t stay fresh and vibrant forever. Do your best to slice them at the last minute, right before you eat.
  • Slice the fennel with a mandoline. Anytime I make a fennel salad, I slice the fennel as thinly as I can. That way, it still has a nice crisp bite, but it’s tender enough to mix and mingle with the other ingredients. To get my slices paper-thin, I cut the fennel with a mandoline. It’s quick and easy, and the slices come out perfectly crisp and tender. I highly recommend investing in one – you’ll find yourself using it left and right! Otherwise, carefully slice the fennel with a sharp knife.

Pear Salad in a bowl

Variations

I love this pear salad recipe as written, but like all my salad recipes, it’s flexible! Feel free to change it up to suit your tastes or feature the ingredients you have on hand. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Swap the fruit. Can’t find pears? Used thinly sliced Gala or Honeycrisp apples instead! And if dried cranberries aren’t your thing, try sprinkling your salad with pomegranate arils or dried cherries.
  • Roast the fennel. The raw fennel adds a nice crisp bite to this simple autumn salad, but roasted fennel’s rich, caramelized flavor would also be delectable here. Try roasting all the fennel or make this salad with fennel 2 ways!
  • Change the cheese. Replace the pecorino with shaved Parmesan, or top your salad with crumbled goat cheese, gorgonzola cheese, or another type of blue cheese.
  • Switch the greens. Skip the baby greens, and make this salad with a base of massaged kale instead.

Let me know what variations you try!

Pear salad with walnuts and pecans

Pear Salad Serving Suggestions

This pear salad recipe is a stunning autumn side dish. It would be a fantastic addition to a Thanksgiving or holiday menu, served alongside classic dishes like sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, and mashed potatoes.

But there doesn’t have to be a special occasion for you to make this pear salad recipe! It’s super easy to make, so it’s a great quick addition to any fall or winter meal. I love to eat it for lunch with a bowl of butternut squash soup, and it’s a wonderful side dish for everyday vegetarian main dishes like these:

For more fall dinner ideas, check out this post!

Pear salad recipe with balsamic dressing

More Favorite Fall Salads

If you love this pear salad recipe, head to your neighborhood Jewel Osco or any local grocery that’s in the Albertsons Companies family of stores including Albertsons, Safeway, ACME Market, Star Market, Shaw’s, Tom Thumb, Randalls, Vons, Pavilions, United Supermarkets and Carrs/Safeway to find the ingredients! You can also explore their exclusive Open Nature products online here. Then, try one of these delicious fall salad recipes next:

Pear Salad with Balsamic and Walnuts

rate this recipe:
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Serves 4
This pear salad recipe is a stunning fall side dish! Simple, elegant, and delicious, it'd be a great addition to a Thanksgiving or holiday dinner.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups mixed salad greens
  • 2 ripe pears, sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced paper thin*
  • Lemon wedge
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon Open Nature Chopped Pecans
  • 1 tablespoon Open Nature Chopped Walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon Open Nature Chopped Hazelnuts, or more pecans or walnuts
  • cup shaved pecorino
  • Open Nature Balsamic Vinaigrette, for drizzling
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Assemble the salad with the mixed greens and top with the pears and fennel. Squeeze a little lemon over the pears and fennel and toss.
  • Top with the cranberries, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pecorino. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Notes

*I like to use a mandolin slicer for this.

This post is sponsored by Jewel-Osco. Lately, we’ve loved using Jewel-Osco’s Grocery Delivery and DriveUp & Go™ services – so convenient!

5 comments

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  1. Isabelle Teran
    10.08.2020

    Love this salad! I make a vinaigrette with maple syrup and mustard. Also, not a vegan option, I add blue cheese or gorgonzola and it is my fav salad. In summer I change the cranberries and pear for mango 🙂

  2. Lucie
    10.08.2020

    I can’t wait to try this, but I really don’t like fennel. Anything you suggest substituting it with? Otherwise I will simply omit it! Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.08.2020

      Hi Lucie, you can just leave it out or add a stalk or two of thinly sliced celery for crunch.

  3. Susan
    10.11.2020

    5 stars
    This salad was fantastic! We had it for a light lunch today. Loved the combination of the salty cheese, sweet cranberries and pears and the crunchy nuts and fennel. We will definitely make this again while pears are in season.

  4. Sabrina from newkitchenlife.com
    10.13.2020

    5 stars
    I used to make pear salads all the time, love them but kinda forgot about them, so thank you for this recipe, and mine didn’t include all these other ingredients like fennel and cranberries

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.