This delicious Pear Salad is the ultimate winter green salad recipe with pears, apples, dried cranberries, and more, topped with a wonderful homemade poppy seed dressing. Perfect as an easy side dish or even a light lunch.
A Lovely Winter Salad
Unlike our fruit salad or broccoli salad, which are made constantly during the summer for BBQs and potlucks, this pear salad switches things up to focus on ingredients more readily available during the colder months – in this case, green pears and honey crisp apples.
This winter fruit salad is prepared on a bed of chopped romaine lettuce and, in addition to the fruit, includes shredded Swiss cheese and dried cranberries. The mild, nutty flavor of Swiss pairs perfectly with the sweet pears and tart cranberries. Topped with creamy homemade poppy seed dressing, you have a quick, easy, and absolutely delicious side dish for the winter months and really anytime throughout the year.
Apple Pear Salad Ingredients
Both the poppy seed dressing and the salad require just a handful of ingredients:
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
For the Poppy Seed Dressing
- Mayonnaise – The base of the dressing with a mild, tart flavor.
- Half-and-half – This is simply equal parts whole milk and heavy cream and makes the dressing extra smooth and creamy.
- Apple cider vinegar – Adds a tang to the vinaigrette.
- Granulated sugar – Adds just enough sweetness to balance the vinegar. Don’t skip it.
- Poppy seeds – A must in any poppy seed dressing.
- Dijon mustard – For a touch of tanginess. Dijon is my go-to, but spicy brown mustard would work, too.
- Salt – For flavor, so the dressing isn’t flat.
For the Salad
- Romaine lettuce – Chopped romaine adds a nice, crisp base to the salad. You can also use spinach, kale, or other greens.
- Pear – Our star for this salad. Asian, Bosc, or Bartlett pears are all wonderful. Use your favorite.
- Apple – I find honey crisp to be the best variety for this recipe, but you can use a similar one as well.
- Swiss cheese – Shredded fresh off the block is preferred for optimal flavor.
- Cashews – Coarsely chopped roasted cashews are wonderful here for added texture and a nutty flavor.
- Dried cranberries – For a tart, but sweet flavor addition to the salad. We also love the color they bring.
Easy Variations & Add-Ins
There are many different variations of this winter pear salad, so you can easily adjust it according to your tastes.
- Switch up the cheese. Bleu cheese and pecorino cheese are both great options that add a salty flavor to the salad.
- Use a variety of nuts. Try swapping the cashews for hazelnuts, walnuts, or pecans.
- Add some mixed greens. If you want some variety in your greens, try a salad mix or simply add some kale, spinach, chard, or arugula to your lettuce.
- Try a different dressing. If poppy seed dressing isn’t your thing, balsamic vinaigrette also works with this salad.
- Add a protein. Grilled chicken breast would easily turn this salad into a meal.
How to Make Pear Salad
This apple pear salad can be prepared and ready in as little as 10 minutes! Simply make the dressing and chill until ready to use. Toss together all the salad ingredients and assemble, then just before serving, dress the salad and toss to coat. Divide onto individual plates and enjoy. To make this winter fruit salad recipe, scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.
Tips for Success
Here are a few things to keep in mind when making this green salad recipe.
- Use ripe pears. Using a ripe pear is essential as it provides the sweetness that makes this salad stand out. Choose from Asian, Bosc, or Bartlett pears – they’re all delicious.
- Use fresh ingredients. Besides the ripe pear, all other ingredients should be fresh as well. A salad with wilted lettuce is less than desirable. You want some crunch in each bite.
- Squeeze lemon juice over the fruit. Squeezing lemon juice over the sliced pears and apples will help them stay fresh for longer. However, note that even with this trick they won’t stay fresh forever.
- Add the dressing just before serving. The dressing should be drizzled over the salad just as it’s being served. Otherwise, it will make the greens soggy. If you won’t be eating all of the salad at once, only add the dressing to the portions being served.
Top this salad with the dressing just before serving, and a sprinkle of extra cheese if desired. Since this recipe uses winter fruits, it makes a great side dish to a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner and is a nice contrast to your traditional green bean casserole, creamed corn, and other holiday sides.
Of course, there’s no need to wait for winter or a special occasion. This apple pear salad can be enjoyed anytime throughout the year when ingredients are available with dishes like baked chicken breast or roasted pork tenderloin.
How to Store
- How to store the dressing. The poppy seed dressing will keep refrigerated for up to a week in a tightly fitted container. I like to store it in a mason jar with a lid, that way I can easily shake it up again before serving.
- How to store the salad. This winter green salad is best when enjoyed immediately. However, it will last for up to a day in the fridge. After that, the pears and apples will begin to brown and the lettuce will begin to wilt.
More Green Salad Recipes:
For the Poppy Seed Dressing
- 6 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons half-and-half
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
For the Salad
- 5 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese (2 ounces)
- 1/2 cup roasted cashews , coarsely chopped
- 1 green pear , cored and sliced
- 1 honey crisp apple , cored and cubed small
- 3 tablespoons dried cranberries
- Make the dressing: In small bowl, whisk all the ingredients together until thoroughly combined and smooth. Taste and adjust to your liking, if necessary.
- Assemble the salad: In a large serving bowl, toss together all of the salad ingredients.
- Just before serving, pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.
- Divide onto individual plates or in bowls, making sure each serving gets a little of all the goodies, and enjoy!