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This Pear Salad is a fresh and delicious mix of lettuce, crumbled feta cheese, fresh and juicy pears, and toasted walnuts paired with a family favorite maple tarragon dressing. Delicious as a stand alone light lunch or as a side dish to serve with Roast Chicken or Garlic and Herb Baked Cod.
Pear Salad | Always A Favorite
A few years ago, Pear Salads were *the* thing. They were popping up on restaurant menus everywhere, especially here in Oregon. Why? Because fresh, juicy pears are so darn delicious in a salad with cheese, nuts and lettuce with a sweeter dressing. It’s that whole salty-sweet thing in salad form that everyone loves.
The secret to taking this salad from good to out of this world is the dressing. It’s inspired by a dressing my aunt used to make growing up that I loved. It’s sweet with a garlicky kick and the hint of tarragon makes it really delicious. It’s become a go-to staple at every family get together and for good reason! It’s so darn tasty.
Main Ingredients Needed
To make this recipe exactly as written, here’s what you’ll need! Of course there are some easy substitutions if you’d like to switch this up and make it your own. See my notes below about simple swaps.
For the Salad
- Lettuce Mix – such as spring mix, butter lettuce, arugula, spinach, etc.
- Feta Cheese – buy this in a block or as crumbles, whichever is cheaper. Both are great options.
- Fresh Pear – sliced. There are a ton of pear varieties out there so choose your favorite. These are in season August to October.
- Walnuts – toasted and chopped. These bring a lot of texture and flavor.
For the Maple Tarragon Dressing
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…this is the best salad dressing, not just for this Pear Salad but for ANY salad. I could drink this stuff.
- Garlic + Dried Tarragon – mince fresh garlic for that punch and dried tarragon for a mellow and delicious addition.
- Maple Syrup – use real maple syrup for best results. Agave or honey also would work well.
- White Distilled Vinegar – or white wine vinegar can be substituted as well.
- Light Olive Oil – I don’t love the taste of olive oil in this dressing, so I use light olive oil. It just has a lighter taste. If you don’t mind the flavor of olive oil in a salad dressing, go for it. Grapeseed oil is also a great heart-healthy, light tasting option.
- Salt + Pepper – to taste.
How To Make Pear Salad
For complete directions to make Pear Salad, see the printable recipe card below.
Step 1: Prep Salad
In a large bowl or serving platter, arrange lettuce and top with cheese, pear slices, and chopped walnuts.
Step 2: Make Salad Dressing
Peel and chop garlic very finely. Sprinkle salt on garlic and using the side of your knife or the back of a spoon, mash the garlic into a paste. Place garlic and salt into the bottom of a salad dressing container or small bowl.
Stir in maple syrup, tarragon and vinegar. Add oil in a constant stream while whisking, or if you’re using a container with a lid, pour it all in and shake it up. You want to emulsify the dressing, or suspend the oil in the other ingredients so its evenly mixed. It’ll look sort of creamy when its emulsified.
Step 3: Toss Pear Salad with Dressing and Serve
So, you can either add the dressing and toss it together right before serving, or serve it with the dressing on the side. The lettuce won’t wilt nearly as quickly if you serve the dressing on the side, but it won’t get evenly coated. Choose whichever way you prefer.
I love this Pear Salad recipe exactly as written, but sometimes I don’t have everything on hand and have to make it based on what I have. Here are a few simple substitutes to give you the same sort of effect. This salad is based off of having sweet, crunchy and creamy elements. If you substitute creamy for something else creamy, you’ll have simple success. Here’s what I mean:
- Goat Cheese or Blue Cheese in place the Feta.
- Toasted Almonds, Hazelnuts or Pecans in place of the Walnuts
- Asian Pear, Honeycrisp or Fuji Apples or Strawberries in place of the Pears.
- Any lettuce will do for this recipe: Mixed Greens, Arugula (peppery bite!), Butter Lettuce, Romaine, Baby Kale or Baby Spinach are all great choices.
- Agave or Honey in place of the Maple Syrup.
Making Ahead and Storing Leftovers
If you tossed this salad together before serving and happen to have some left, I wouldn’t recommend saving for later. The lettuce has a tendency to wilt really quickly when dressed.
If you’re making this Pear Salad ahead, be sure to store the salad separately from the dressing in an airtight container or on a serving platter covered with plastic wrap. Dress the salad right before serving.
Love This Pear Salad? Give These Recipes a Try…
While I have a huge archive of salad recipes with lots of choices to choose from, here are some of my favorites:
- Strawberry Salad
- Watermelon Mint Salad
- Italian Pasta Salad
- Kale Pomegranate Salad with Maple Bacon Dressing
This Pear Salad is perfect as a side salad, snack, or light lunch or dinner. I hope you enjoy this family recipe as much as I do. The printable recipe card is below. Enjoy, friends! 🙂
For the salad:
- 5 oz lettuce mix (1 clamshell) such as spring mix, butter lettuce, arugula, spinach, etc..
- 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles or blue cheese crumbles
- 1 ripe fresh pear sliced
- 1/2 cup walnuts toasted and chopped
For the Maple Tarragon dressing:
- 1 large clove garlic or 2 small
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 1/4 cup vinegar white distilled or white wine vinegar
- 1/3-1/2 cup light olive oil I like my dressing to have a stronger vinegar and garlic flavor so I use closer to 1/3 cup
- more salt & pepper to taste
For the Salad:
- In a large bowl or serving platter, arrange lettuce and top with cheese, pear slices, and chopped walnuts.
Make the Dressing:
- Peel and chop garlic very finely. Sprinkle salt on garlic and using the side of your knife or the back of a spoon, mash the garlic into a paste. Place garlic and salt into the bottom of a salad dressing container or small bowl.
- Stir in maple syrup, tarragon and vinegar. Add oil in a constant stream while whisking, or if you're using a container with a lid, pour it all in and shake it up. You want to emulsify the dressing, or suspend the oil in the other ingredients so its evenly mixed. It'll look sort of creamy when its emulsified.
- Taste and add more salt and pepper to your liking.
- Drizzle salad with dressing and serve.