The ultimate fall salad! This maple pear and goat cheese salad gets rave reviews every time I serve it. It pairs well with almost any main dish, from soup to pasta to chicken.
I got some serious parenting points with this maple pear and goat cheese salad! You know you’ve hit the salad jackpot when your son stands at the kitchen counter after dinner, eating up every last bite of the leftover salad.
The pear (or apple) – goat cheese combo is a favorite around here (hello, Cinnamon Apple & Goat Cheese Crostini!). Including both is one of the ways to ensure my boys will go back for second or even third helpings of salad.
This fall salad comes together in just 15 minutes, making it a fantastic option for a weeknight meal. But the maple glaze on the pears turns it into something really special, which makes it equally worthy of gracing a holiday table.
Tips for making this recipe
- Choosing Pears: Opt for slightly underripe pears to prevent them from becoming too soft during cooking.
- Quality Maple Syrup: Use pure maple syrup for the best flavor. Avoid corn syrup-based imitations; opt for the real deal to enhance the richness of the salad.
- Balsamic Vinegar: Invest in a good-quality aged balsamic vinegar for finishing the glazed pears. This adds depth and complexity to the overall flavor.
- Nut Toasting: Toast raw pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes. This quick step intensifies their nutty flavor.
- Cheese Choice: A little chevre (soft goat cheese) goes a long way. Look for it in the deli section, typically available in logs. Its creamy texture complements the other ingredients perfectly.
- Dressing Perfection: The dressing is a simple mix of maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. It can be made up to a week ahead of time.
- Quick Assembly: This fall salad comes together in just 15 minutes, making it an ideal choice for busy weeknights or a quick addition to holiday menus.
See recipe card below for full ingredients list & recipe directions.
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Choosing the right pears
I prefer to use pears that are slightly underripe so that they don’t become too soft while cooking. The goal is to brown the pear slices, caramelizing the maple syrup. That process takes 2 to 3 minutes per side. Ripe or overripe pears will turn mushy when cooked, so make sure you start with pears that have some firmness when gently squeezed.
Turn it into a dinner salad
This side salad could easily be made into a dinner salad with the addition of poached chicken, baked salmon or seared shrimp. For a vegetarian option, add cannellini (white kidney) beans, chickpeas or baked tofu.
I suggest doubling the salad ingredients if serving this as an entrée for four people.
Make-Ahead and Storage
This salad is best enjoyed right after it’s made. However, the dressing can be made up to a week in advance. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Assemble the salad just before serving so that the greens are at their freshest.
What to serve it with
This salad is endlessly versatile and can be served with soups, meat, seafood, pasta and more. Here are a few suggestions:
- Soups: Serve with Winter Vegetable Soup, Broccoli Cheese Potato Soup or Beef Taco Quinoa Soup.
- Pasta: Serve with Easy Mushroom Broccoli Pasta or Ground Turkey Lasagna.
- Meat and Fish: Serve with Baked Panko Chicken Strips or Baked Halibut Marsala.
- Vegetarian: Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers or Crustless Broccoli Quiche.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Absolutely! Apples make an excellent substitute, providing a similar sweet and crisp texture.
Start with slightly underripe pears and ensure not to overcook them. The goal is to caramelize the maple syrup without making the pears too soft.
While goat cheese adds a tangy creaminess, you can experiment with other cheeses like feta, blue cheese, or even shaved Parmesan.
Other Salad Recipes You'll Love
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and comment underneath the recipe card below. Thank you!
Maple Pear and Goat Cheese Salad
- Place the pear quarters in a bowl and toss with the maple syrup, salt and pepper until coated.
- Heat the olive oil in a small nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the pears, one cut side down and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip the pears onto the other cut side and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir to coat the pears.
- Remove from the heat, allow to cool, then cut the pears into 1-inch pieces.
- In a serving bowl, combine the mixed greens, browned pears, pecans and goat cheese. Toss with the dressing. Serve.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper.
This post was first published on November 6, 2017 and updated on December 5, 2023.
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