This pear salad recipe is full of contrasts, with gorgonzola, toasted pecans, and a tangy poppy seed dressing. It’s a showstopper!

Pear salad

Here’s a dreamy salad if there ever was one: this brilliant Pear Salad! It’s a study in contrasts: fresh, juicy pear against funky gorgonzola cheese; bright pomegranate against savory shallot. Throw in some toasted pecans and cover it in tangy poppy seed dressing, and well: it’s absolutely irresistible. Alex and I couldn’t stop mumbling how good it was while stuffing our faces. It’s not often that the salad is the highlight of a meal. Make this one, and it will be at your table, too!

Elements in this pear salad recipe

This pear salad is bursting with beautiful, fresh produce. It’s ideal for fall and winter when pears are in season, though you can make it anytime you have lusciously ripe fruit. It’s also great for festive occasions like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Here’s what you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Pears
  • Shallot
  • Pecans
  • Mixed greens
  • Pomegranate seeds: go to How to Cut a Pomegranate for instructions on removing the seeds
  • Gorgonzola cheese, or substitute feta or goat cheese (omit for vegan)
  • Poppy seed dressing
Poppy seed dressing

How to ripen pears

The hardest part about working with pears is that they take quite a while to ripen. It’s somewhat surprising since they look similar to apples, and seem like they’d be good to go when you buy them. Think of them more in terms of bananas when it comes to ripening. Here are some tips on how to ripen pears:

  • The fastest way to ripen pears is to place them in a paper bag. Leave them at room temperature and they should be ripe in 2 to 4 days.
  • In a bowl on the counter, pears ripen in about 4 to 7 days. Check them by gently pressing the flesh to see if it is tender.
  • Don’t place pears in the refrigerator until they are ripe. The refrigerator slows the ripening process. If you place them in the fridge right away, they’ll be rock hard. Allow them to ripen first, then only refrigerate if you want to delay eating them.

Making homemade poppy seed dressing

The star of the show in this pear salad recipe, in our opinion, is the poppy seed dressing! This dressing is a vinaigrette with a searing acidity and pop of sweetness. The combination of white vinegar and sugar is just what this salad needs to take it over the top! Here’s what to know about this dressing:

  • Use a neutral oil like grapeseed. This makes the best emulsion (creamy texture) and flavor. If you like olive oil, use up to half olive oil and half neutral oil.
  • Use white vinegar. Avoid white wine vinegar here and go for white vinegar: it has the best straightforward, tangy flavor.
Pear Salad Recipe

A pear salad with gorgonzola (or feta or goat cheese)

Pears and gorgonzola are a classic flavor pairing, pitting the sweet earthiness of pears against the salty, sharp funk of blue cheese. Blue cheese can be a polarizing food: many eaters can’t handle the sharpness of the cheese. Luckily this pear salad works with any type of cheese! We love it with gorgonzola, but here are some other options if you’re not a fan:

  • Feta cheese
  • Goat cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Asiago cheese
  • Manchego cheese

Serving pear salad for a crowd

This pear salad can be served a few different ways: on a platter, or plated. Here are some notes on serving it for a crowd:

  • Double the fresh ingredients for a crowd. You should have enough dressing for a double recipe, so just double the fresh ingredients!
  • Serve on a platter for easy sharing. The pear salad looks festive and vibrant on a large platter.
  • Or, serve plated. Make individual plates and drizzle about 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons dressing on each one.
Pear Salad with Gorgonzola

More salad recipes

This pear salad is one of our favorite salad recipes to date! Here are a few more special salads that are tasty enough for weeknights but elegant enough for parties:

This pear salad recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free. For vegan, plant-based and dairy-free, omit the gorgonzola cheese (it’s delicious without!).

Print
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Pear salad

Pear Salad with Pecans


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This pear salad recipe is full of contrasts, with gorgonzola, toasted pecans, and a tangy poppy seed dressing. It’s a showstopper!


Ingredients

Scale

For the pear salad

  • 1 ripe pear
  • 1 shallot
  • ½ cup pecan pieces
  • 8 cups mixed baby greens
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • ⅓ cup gorgonzola cheese crumbles (or feta cheese or goat cheese; omit for vegan)

For the dressing (makes ¾ cup; use 6 to 8 tablespoons for the salad)

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar (or honey)
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon onion flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup grapeseed oil* (or other neutral oil like organic vegetable or canola)
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Instructions

  1. Make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, white vinegar, dry mustard, onion flakes, and kosher salt. Gradually whisk in the grapeseed oil about 1 tablespoon at a time until a creamy emulsion forms. Whisk in the poppy seeds. Serve immediately or store in a sealed container or jar until serving (allow to come to room temperature if refrigerated).
  2. Prep the fresh ingredients: Slice the pear into thin slices. Thinly slice the shallot. See How to Cut a Pomegranate for instructions on removing pomegranate seeds.
  3. If time, toast the pecans: Place the nuts in a dry skillet (no oil) over medium heat. Heat, shaking the pan and stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the nuts are fragrant and slightly darker brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stay at the stove because the nuts can easily burn! Remove immediately from the heat and transfer to a plate to stop the cooking.
  4. Serve: Place the greens on a plate or platter. Top with the pear slices, shallot, toasted pecans, pomegranate seeds, and gorgonzola cheese crumbles. Drizzle with the desired amount of dressing and serve (use 6 to 8 tablespoons for 4 servings; store the remaining dressing refrigerated).
  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Fresh
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Pear salad, pear salad recipe

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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