Autumn Salad with Pear and Goat Cheese

My Autumn Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing is fresh, colorful, and packed with flavor. Loaded with bits of roasted pecans, juicy pears, and creamy goat cheese, this salad is full of delicious surprises and perfect for fall.

Pears, Pecans, and Goat Cheese—Oh My!

Autumn salad with pears, goat cheese, cranberries, and pecans.

You’re about to have a party in your mouth. Seriously. 

Sweet pears and grapes, crunchy pecans, and tangy goat cheese?? Topped with a maple balsamic dressing?? Get outta town.

I love the blend of flavors that’s happening in this salad, and I know you will too.  It’s like the cozy fall cousin to this Strawberry Spinach Salad.

Pears are the unsung fruit of fall, often taking a backseat to apples. But I love their mild sweetness and medium firm bite for a salad (or for a Pear Bundt Cake, for that matter, but that’s another recipe for another day).

This fall salad is perfect for a light dinner and also makes a great Thanksgiving salad!

Why I Love This Autumn Salad

  • It’s quick. We all know salad recipes that are overly complicated and take far too long…that is not the case with this salad! All you need is 20 minutes to get it on the table.
  • It’s simple and fresh. Once you’ve roasted the pecans, the rest of this recipe is a cakewalk. The homemade maple dressing just requires a quick shake in a mason jar, but it really pulls together the salad.
  • It’s got a variety of flavors and textures. There’s nothing worse than a boring salad, and this one is anything but! It’s got crunch, creaminess, sweetness, and bite.
  • It feeds a crowd. This Fall Salad will easily feed 8 people. It’s perfect to take to a holiday gathering, or to stick in the fridge and eat for lunch throughout the week.

Key Ingredients for Fall Salad

Bowl of mixed greens with bowls of pecans, cranberries, sliced pearsw, goat cheese, and maple dressing.
  • Mixed greens – You can use any type of greens. I prefer a mixture of spinach and spring mix.
  • Whole pecans – You’ll want to roast the pecans for about 5 minutes to deepen the flavor before adding them to the salad. If you prefer, substitute sliced almonds or walnuts. For more pecan goodness, check out my Pecan Pie Bars and Toasted Pecan Coconut Cookies.
  • Fruit – We’ve got an array of delicious fruit in this salad! Red anjou pears, red grapes, and dried cranberries—the holy trinity of fall fruits. If you can’t find red anjou pears in your grocery store, any kind of pear will work just fine.
  • Goat cheese – The pièce de résistance, goat cheese adds a creamy tangy flavor that is a delight to eat. Don’t mind me, always hunting for another crumble of goat cheese tucked under the spinach.
  • Red onion– I like the bite of red onion in this salad, but I don’t always include it. Depends on if I want to protect the state of my breath or not.

How to Make Autumn Salad with Maple Dressing

  1. Place the pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast until pecans are browned and fragrant, tossing occasionally, about 5 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, toss together the greens, roasted pecans, pears, grapes, cranberries, onion, and goat cheese.
  3. Add all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette into a container with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously until the oil and vinegar are combined. Taste, then season with salt and pepper as needed.
  4. Pour half the vinaigrette into the greens and toss. Add additional vinaigrette to your preference and serve.

Large bowl with a mixed green salad, sliced pears, cranberries, and goat cheese.

Tips 

  • The pecans, grapes, and red onion can all be prepped in advance. I recommend waiting to slice the pears until right before serving to prevent browning.
  • The vinaigrette can be prepared up to a week in advance and stored in the fridge. Give it a good shake before serving.
  • For an extra colorful salad, try subbing some pomegranate seeds for the grapes or cranberries.
  • If you can find a honey goat cheese or herb goat cheese, it would be a lovely addition to the salad.
  • If you want some additional protein, add diced up chicken. This Italian Chicken would work well.
Autumn salad with maple dressing in a large white bowl.

FAQs

How do you keep pears from turning brown in this salad?

If you’re prepping this salad ahead of time and are worried about the pears browning, try this honey soak method from America’s Test Kitchen. Combine 1 Tablespoon honey and 1 cup water, then soak the pear slices in the mixture for at least 30 seconds. Remove and store. They should stay fresh for about 8 hours.

Can I use feta instead of goat cheese in fall salad?

If you’d prefer to use feta, go for it! It will give a slightly different flavor than the goat cheese, but it will still pair well with the pears and pecans.

What do I serve with fall salad?

If you’re serving this as a main dish, add a loaf of crusty bread and butter and you’re good!

Other great compliments include Coconut Butternut Squash Soup, Mediterranean Pork Tenderloin, Easy Roasted Turkey, and Spicy Sweet Potato Soup.

Salad with pear slices, red onion, and maple vinaigrette.

More Salad Recipes

If you love a big hearty salad, we’ve got oodles of options for you. I’m a big proponent of making salads that you’ll actually look forward to eating. What a concept! Here are some of our favorites:

Autumn salad with maple dressing in a large white bowl.

Autumn Salad with Pears and Goat Cheese

Yield: 4-8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Studded with juicy pears and grapes, crunchy pecans, and creamy goat cheese this Autumn Salad is perfect for a light dinner, side dish, or Thanksgiving gathering.

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 16 oz. mixed greens
  • 1 cup whole pecans
  • 2 red anjou pears, sliced
  • 1 ½ cups red grapes, halved
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion, optional
  • 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

For the maple vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon real maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Place the pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast until pecans are browned and fragrant, tossing occasionally, about 5 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, toss together the greens, roasted pecans, pears, grapes, cranberries, onion, and goat cheese.
  3. Add all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette into a container with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously until the oil and vinegar are combined. Taste, then season with salt and pepper as needed.
  4. Pour half the vinaigrette into the greens and toss. Add additional vinaigrette to your preference and serve.

Notes

The dressing can be prepared up to a week in advance and stored in the fridge. Give it a good shake before serving.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 378Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 178mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 5gSugar: 27gProtein: 5g

Please note nutritional information for my recipes is calculated by a third party service and provided as a courtesy to my readers. For the most accurate calculation, I always recommend running the numbers yourself with the specific products you use.

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