Easy, elegant and full of flavors, Pear and Goat Cheese Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette is a favorite of mine to serve in fall and winter months. Crisp, fresh greens are topped with juicy, sweet pear slices, tangy goat cheese crumbles, crunchy candied walnuts and sweet-tart dried cranberries. It’s finished off with a few slices of red onion and a scrumptious walnut vinaigrette that’s super quick to prepare – with only 3 ingredients!

Cooking the seasons

I love “cooking the seasons,” that is, using fresh, in-season ingredients whenever I can. In the fall and winter, I am particularly fond of fresh pears. Their juicy, sweet yet citrus-y flavor is so versatile! I use them in a variety of desserts (including Blackberry Pear Crisp and Pears with Cranberries, Walnuts and Cinnamon Whipped Cream) – and now, in this scrumptious Pear and Goat Cheese Salad.

Close up showing Pear and Goat Cheese salad, along with candied walnuts, dried cranberries and sliced red onion

Why You Will Love this Goat Cheese and Pear Salad

Refreshing and light, this Pear Salad is the perfect combination of textures, colors and flavors. Crisp green pieces of Boston bibb lettuce are topped with thin slices of juicy, sweet pears, creamy, tangy white goat cheese crumbles, chewy and sweet red dried cranberries, crunchy candied walnut pieces and crisp red onion slices.

I finish it all off with a tangy, slightly sweet Walnut Vinaigrette made with walnut oil, white balsamic vinegar and a bit of Dijon mustard – just enough of the latter to emulsify the dressing and add a bit of sharpness. The walnut and white balsamic flavors pair perfectly with the pear, goat cheese and other ingredients in this elegant salad.

Close up of Pear and Goat Cheese Salad, showing detail on ingredients

Pear and Goat Cheese Salad Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make the salad, candied walnuts and walnut vinaigrette:

  • Boston Bibb lettuce (or baby mixed greens)
  • Small ripe pears
  • Goat cheese crumbles
  • Dried cranberries
  • Red onion
  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Walnuts
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Walnut oil
  • White balsamic vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
What are the best pears to use in Pear Salad with Goat Cheese?

I like to use D’Anjou pears (see photo below) in this Pear and Goat Cheese Salad. They are juicy and sweet yet still have a citrus flavor coming through. You can also use Bartlett pears, which have a smooth, buttery texture, or Comice – the sweetest and juiciest of the three varieties.
close up of d'anjou pears

Can I substitute the cheese in Goat Cheese Pear Salad?

This recipe is extremely versatile! If you don’t particularly like goat cheese, feta or blue cheese would also work well in this salad.

And, you can use dried cherries – or even pomegranate seeds – in place of the dried cranberries if you prefer.

Pear and Goat Cheese Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette pouring out of a white pitcher

How To Make Goat Cheese and Pear Salad

Here’s an overview of how to make this divine salad:

  1. Prepare Walnut Vinaigrette.
    In a small jar with a lid, whisk together walnut oil, balsamic vinegar and mustard until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside.
  2. Prepare candied walnuts.
    In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in sugar, then walnut pieces. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and quickly transfer nuts onto waxed or parchment paper, separating the walnuts as much as possible. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Set aside to cool.
  3. Assemble salad.
    Tear lettuce leaves into bite-size pieces and divide evenly among 8 individual salad plates. Arrange pear slices decoratively on top. Sprinkle with goat cheese, cranberries and walnuts. Drizzle some dressing on top, passing the rest on the side.

Salad with Pear and Goat Cheese FAQs

How do you slice a pear for salad?

Here’s how I slice a pear for this salad:
1. Cut the pear in half from stem to base.
2. Using a melon baller, scoop out the core.
3. Place pear half, cut side down, on cutting board. Slice lengthwise into 1/2-inch pieces.

How long will Pear Salad with Goat Cheese last?

Candied walnuts and Walnut Vinaigrette will last up to 3 days. Refrigerate the vinaigrette. Unfortunately the rest of the ingredients won’t last. In fact, the salad should be assembled shortly before serving as the lettuce will wilt and the pears will turn brown.

Can I make this salad with Pear and Goat Cheese ahead of time?

Vinaigrette can be made up to 3 days ahead, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using. Candied walnuts can also be made up to 3 days ahead, covered and kept at room temperature.

Pin this Goat Cheese Pear Salad for later!

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More Fall/Winter Salads to Try

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Pear and Goat Cheese Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette pouring out of a white pitcher

Pear and Goat Cheese Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette

Pear and Goat Cheese Salad is perfect for fall and winter months. Crisp, fresh greens are topped with slices of juicy, sweet pears, crumbles of tangy goat cheese, candied walnuts and dried cranberries. It’s finished off with a walnut vinaigrette that’s super quick to prepare with only 3 ingredients!

  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Ingredients

Scale

Walnut Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup walnut oil
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Candied Walnuts

  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • Kosher salt, to taste

Pear and Goat Cheese Salad

  • 7 to 8 cups torn Boston bibb lettuce (or baby mixed greens)
  • 4 small ripe pears, cored, thinly sliced – see Note
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese crumbles
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 medium red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced

Instructions

Walnut Vinaigrette

  1. In a small jar with a lid, whisk together walnut oil, balsamic vinegar and mustard until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Cover and set aside.

Candied Walnuts

  1. In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the sugar, then the walnut pieces. Cook, stirring for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and quickly transfer nuts onto waxed or parchment paper, separating the walnuts as much as possible. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.
  3. Set aside to cool.

Pear and Goat Cheese Salad

  1. Tear lettuce leaves into bite-size pieces and divide evenly among 8 individual salad plates.
  2. Arrange pear slices decoratively on top.
  3. Sprinkle with goat cheese, cranberries and walnuts.
  4. Drizzle some dressing on top, passing the rest on the side.

Notes

Make ahead: Vinaigrette can be made up to 3 days ahead, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using. Candied walnuts can also be made up to 3 days ahead, covered and kept at room temperature.

Type of pears to use: I recommend using d’Anjou pears. Bartlett or Comice will also work well.

  • Author: (by Lee Clayton Roper)
  • Category: side salads, starters, side dishes
  • Method: tossed
  • Cuisine: French
Pear and Goat Cheese Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette pouring out of a white pitcher

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About the author

Hi, I'm Lee.

I am inspired by my mother, Sally’s, love of cooking and entertaining to gather friends and family together over great meals and conversation. In fact, I held my first dinner party at the age of 16. Throughout the years, I haves provided recipes, menu advice and cooking tips to friends seeking uncomplicated and delicious ideas for home entertaining.


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