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This Harvest Pear Salad is light and fresh with all the flavors of fall! With pumpkin spiced pecans, cranberries, and pears, it is a favorite fall dish.
Featured with this Recipe
This Harvest Pear Salad with a fragrant cranberry vinaigrette dressing is one of our very favorite fall salad recipes. Plump, juicy pears, sweet dried cranberries, and pumpkin spice flavored pecans complement each other in a beautiful, tasty way. I highly recommend trying the pumpkin spiced pecans. It takes a few extra minutes, but the flavor and extra crunch it gives to the salad is worth it. Load them up on this salad and enjoy the delightful flavor and texture. Perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas or any time you want a light side dish.
Ingredients in Harvest Pear Salad
- Spring mix bagged salad
- Fresh pears – I like Anjou pears, Bosc pears or Bartlett pears but you can use any type you like.
- Pumpkin spiced pecans (see instructions below)
- Feta cheese crumbles
- Dried cranberries
For the pumpkin spiced pecans
- Whole pecans
- Pumpkin pie spice
For the cranberry dressing
- Fresh cranberries
- Orange juice
- Olive oil
- Red wine vinegar – you can substitute apple cider vinegar if that’s what you have on hand.
- Salt and black pepper to taste
A Light Fall Salad Dish
This pear salad recipe is a nice break from all of the creamy soups and casseroles that are loaded with fat. It is already gluten free and can be made dairy-free by removing the feta. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the comfort foods of fall, but sometimes, something on the lighter side tastes really refreshing. It is low in cholesterol and saturated fat, high in fiber, and has a burst of vitamin C. Make this salad as a main dish by adding some protein like grilled chicken or chopped leftover oven roast turkey. The turkey goes especially well with the delicious cranberry dressing.
Cranberry Vinaigrette Dressing
The star of this salad is the creamy cranberry vinaigrette dressing. If you’ve never made your own homemade dressing, this is a delicious recipe to start with. You’ll never buy a bottle of salad dressing from the store again! Made with wholesome, fresh ingredients, this dressing is vibrant, so yummy, and really easy to make!
- Mix fresh cranberries with orange juice and sugar on the stovetop until the cranberries pop, and then simmer for a few minutes.
- Next, pour the mixture into a blender and combine with oil, salt, and vinegar and blend together.
- The dressing is thick and creamy; perfect for drizzling over salads, or used as a fruit dip.
- If it’s too thick, add a tiny bit of water until it’s the consistency you like.
- Store the dressing in an airtight container or jar with a lid in the fridge and shake well before using.
- I like to toss the dressing into the salad before serving and leave a bowl on the table for guests to add more dressing if they’d like.
- Refrigerate before and after using.
How to Make Pumpkin Spiced Pecans
These pumpkin spiced pecans are like candy! I love them on salads, mixed with yogurt, or just eaten plain. All you do is mix some pumpkin spice with sugar and heat on the stove over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly and making sure it doesn’t burn. Then, toss the pecans in the mixture and spread out on a cookie sheet to cool. They are so yummy! You can also sub the sugar for honey or maple syrup.
Variations of this Salad
Mix it up by trying different ingredients in this salad:
- Instead of Feta Cheese, try Blue Cheese or Goat Cheese.
- Instead of pecans, sub out almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, or cashews. Rather than dried cranberries, try dried cherries, fresh raspberries, or strawberries.
- Try a blend of mixed greens, kale salad, lettuce leaves, spring mix, or arugula.
- Use a roasted pear instead of fresh.
- If you don’t like cranberry dressing, you can always try our Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing instead or try a simple mixture of Dijon mustard and lemon juice, whisking with a little extra virgin olive oil.
- Add apples to the pear mixture for extra crunch.
- Add diced red onion, diced tomatoes, brussels sprouts or any other veggies you like for extra crunch.
- Add roasted sweet potato or butternut squash to create an entire meal out of this yummy salad.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pear Salad
There is a famous old pear salad that dates back to the late 1800’s where you would place a canned pear on a bed of lettuce and top it with cheddar cheese and mayonnaise. Trust us, our pear salad is much better than the original!
Cut the pear in half and remove the core in the center, then, cut into long thin slices.
Keep the pear slices in cold lemon water or honey water until ready to serve.
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More Side Salad Recipes
If you are going to the trouble of making a salad, make it a memorable one! It doesn’t take a lot to give a side salad a little extra flavor and color. These side salad recipes are unique, healthy, and easy to make.
- Nuts About Berries Salad – This salad is loaded with (you guessed it!) nuts and berries. It is fruity and refreshing.
- Mandarin Spinach Salad with Candied Pecans – My favorite part of this salad is the pomegranate seeds mixed in with the fruit and pecans. It is so flavorful!
- Kona Grill’s Red Pepper Coleslaw – Gorgonzola cheese and roasted red peppers give this traditional coleslaw a delicious twist.
- Asian Cucumber Salad – This low calorie salad is loaded with healthy vegetables and is lightly tossed in a rice vinegar based dressing.
- Fresh Mango Avocado Coleslaw – If you are lucky enough to find ripe mangoes and ripe avocados at the same time, you have to try this coleslaw! It is so colorful. The textures and flavors go so well together.
- Greek Side Salad with Greek Dressing – This flavor packed salad will not disappoint. Colorful vegetables, olives, and beans are dressed in an olive oil and vinegar dressing.
How to Make Harvest Pear Salad
Harvest Pear Salad
For pumpkin spiced pecans
- 1 cup whole pecans
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
For the dressing:
- Combine cranberries, orange juice, and sugar in a medium-sized sauce pan. Cook on medium high heat, stirring constantly, until all the cranberries pop. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Pour cranberry mixture into a blender and add olive oil, vinegar, and salt. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the pumpkin spiced pecans:
- Mix sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a small bowl until blended well. Add pecans and sugar mixture to a skillet.
- Cook over medium until sugar is melted – stirring constantly. Be careful not to burn the sugar. It will seem like the sugar is just clumping, but keep stirring – it will melt and coat the nuts. As soon as sugar is melted onto the pecans, pour pecans onto aluminum foil to cool.
For the salad:
- Layer all ingredients in a large bowl.
- Serve with Cranberry Vinaigrette Dressing.
- Make the dressing ahead of time. It will stay good in the refrigerator. Just stir or mix it up before serving.
- The dressing will be thick and creamy. If you prefer a thinner dressing, add small amounts of water (1 tablespoon at a time) until desired consistency is reached.
- Make the spiced pecans ahead of time so they have plenty of time to cool before serving.
- Make the salad as close to serving as possible so the lettuce doesn’t get soggy.
- Mix up the ingredients; try different cheeses or fruits in the salad.
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