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!

Plate showing Pear and Goat Cheese Salad, with dressing, candied walnuts and dried cranberries on the side

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

Combining textures and flavors

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.

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

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.

Pear and Goat Cheese Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette pouring out of a white pitcher
What are the best pears to use in this salad?

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 use another cheese besides goat cheese?

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.

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Other fall/winter salads you might like

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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

  • Author: (by Lee Clayton Roper)
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: side salads, starters, side dishes
  • Method: tossed
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

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!


Scale

Ingredients

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 list, 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 lettuces 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: Dressing 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.

Lee Clayton Roper

Welcome!

I’m Lee Clayton Roper, and I’m passionate about making cooking and entertaining easy, elegant and fun. Here you’ll find scrumptious recipes, helpful tips and seasonal menus that will spark inspiration in your kitchen!
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Access more recipes in Lee's award-winning book, Fresh Tastes!

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