Recipe: Pear-Walnut Salad for Fall

Pear Walnut SaladEven though apples are in peak season in the fall, and are an emblem of back-to-school, pears are what really scream fall to me. Maybe that’s because apples are more readily available year-round, thanks to storage technology and imports from the southern hemisphere.

When I think “pear” my next thought tends to be “walnuts.” They are a natural pairing (pear-ing?), and add some blue cheese and you have a trifecta of deliciousness. I bought two beautiful Bosc pears this weekend at PCC Natural Markets, and enjoyed them in my favorite way: Pear-Walnut Salad.

I was flying solo this weekend, and had a long to-do list, so I was happy to include two variations of this salad in my meal plan. For dinner Saturday, I topped a bed of greens and baby arugula (both from Organic Girl) with chunks of leftover baked chicken. For Sunday lunch, I sliced up a roasted beet and added more walnuts (for protein). Beets also say fall to me, even though I eat them year-round.

My go-to salad dressing is a homemade vinaigrette. When I make pear-walnut salads, I reach for my walnut oil (stored in the fridge) instead of my olive oil, and use a slightly sweet vinegar, usually a white balsamic (regular balsamic feels too heavy) or apple cider vinegar. (At one point, I had some samples of Sparrow Lane walnut champagne and D’Anjou pear vinegar from Marx Pantry in my possession, and I can’t even say how much they elevated my salads! Salad nirvana!)

Pear-Walnut Salad

Serves 1


  • Salad greens (I prefer tender greens for this salad)
  • Walnut oil
  • A fruity or slightly sweet vinegar (such as white balsamic or apple cider)
  • Cooked chicken, cubed (about 3 ounces) or 1 roasted medium-sized beet, cubed
  • 1 pear, quartered, seeds and core removed, and sliced or cubed.
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 2 Tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. In a jar or small bowl, combine walnut oil and vinegar, along with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. The classic ratio is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, but a 2:1 ratio also works well, especially since you are using a less acidic-tasting vinegar. Shake (jar) or whisk (bowl) to combine.
  2. Add greens to a salad/mixing bowl and drizzle with the desired amount of dressing; toss to coat (extra dressing will keep in the fridge).
  3. Arrange greens on the plate or bowl you will be eating from. Arrange the other ingredients on top so they are pleasing to your eye, then add a few more grinds of pepper and a sprinkle of salt (to taste). Enjoy!

Notes: A quick way to toast a small amount of walnuts is to put them in a small, microwave-safe bowl and microwave them for 1 minute. If you’ve never roasted beets before, this Kitchn post will get you on your way. I leave the skin on my pear, because many of the beneficial phytonutrients are in the skin or right underneath it (plus, I think it adds nice color and texture to the salad).