This is the perfect salad to kick off the fall and winter months when fresh pears are in their peak. Served with soft lettuce, cheese and candied walnuts, this saucy, warm Pan Roasted Pear Salad is heaven on a plate!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Next time you’re at the Farmer’s Market or grocery store, grab some ripe pears! Now’s the perfect time to make a beautiful pear salad recipe a part of your autumn and winter repertoire.
Here’s some reasons to make this salad:
- It’s fresh and crunchy with butter lettuce and radicchio, so pretty and perfect for fall and winter.
- Soft goat cheese is crumbled on top for tang and creaminess.
- Candied walnuts!! These just take a few minutes, and no candy thermometer is required.
- The star of the show are the delicious roasted pears, which are amazing as a side dish recipe all by themselves.
Ingredients You’ll Need
For the full recipe and instructions, please scroll to the recipe card below.
- Bartlett Pears: The most common pear variety, and easy to find in most grocery stores. Choose firm pears, with a slight give when pressed lightly with your thumb.
- Sugar, Salt, Butter: A little of each (please see the recipe card below for quantities)
- White Balsamic Vinegar: To balance the overall sweetness in this recipe.
- Butter Lettuce: Crisp and so fresh, this is the perfect type of lettuce for this salad, but any green leaf lettuces will work.
- Radicchio: For beautiful color and presentation, also to balance the flavors with a little bitterness.
- Goat Cheese: Can’t have a salad without cheese. These are the rules. 🙂
- Candied Walnuts: Make them or buy them, these crunchy, sweet, salty bites really elevate this salad.
- Remove the skin from the pears with a vegetable peeler.
- Pan roast the pears by slicing them in half and removing the cores, then cut them into quarters, then place in a small or medium-sized bowl, and toss them with a teaspoon or two of sugar and a pinch of salt. That’s it!
- Move pears into a large skillet, and over medium-high heat, place the pears in a single layer, with the pear quarters placed with the cut sides down. As they develop a caramelized brown color, gently turn them to the next cut side with a small rubber spatula. Finish cooking the pears on all sides, then add the vinegar and carefully toss all to coat them evenly.
- Make the candied nuts – this is easy… only 3 ingredients and no candy thermometer needed!
- Tear some soft butter lettuce, then chop the raddichio and flat leaf parsley into pieces and place the greens in a large bowl.
- Toss the greens with a simple vinaigrette made of olive oil, vinegar, honey and fresh leeks.
- Place the greens on a platter or individual plates, top with a couple of the roasted pear quarters and a generous crumble of goat cheese. Add a few candied nuts on the top for serving.
How To Roast Pears
If you think the idea of pan roasting pears sounds like an ordeal, it’s really not! This is a simple technique…so lets break it down:
- Cut the pears into quarters, remove the core with a spoon, place them in a medium-sized bowl, then toss together with sugar and salt.
- Add the quarters to a non-stick skillet that’s on medium-high heat with melted butter in a single layer. Don’t crowd the pears (or they will steam)...you may need to do this in two batches.
- Cook each cut side until they are brown and caramelized, then turn them carefully to the next cut side, until golden brown on all sides.
- Gently toss them with a few tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar. This balances the sweetness and adds a needed punch.
- Arrange the greens on individual salad plates or one large serving plate, add the pears, cheese and candied nuts and serve. The pears are delicious served at room temperature or cold and delicious by themselves if you have any left over, or on oatmeal or waffles!
When is Pear Season?
I used Bartlett pears for this salad recipe, they’re in season from August to February, and I love their sweet, juicy, classic pear flavor. Anjou pear would work well in this recipe too.
Did you know there are ten kinds of US pears? Here’s more info on pear varieties if you really want to geek out 🙂
Make the Candied Walnuts
These are super easy and tasty, and you can use them in other salads or just keep some on hand for snacking… Here’s all you do:
- Cut the butter into one-inch pieces and place in a large, non-stick skillet.
- Add the sugar and nuts…. when the butter melts, gently combine the ingredients together with a wooden spoon
- Cook the nuts, stirring gently and frequently so they don’t burn.
- Continue this and notice that the mixture will get dark and syrupy, this is what we want and means we’re almost done.
- Transfer the cooked nuts to parchment paper like in the photo above and let them cool until ready to use.
- The whole cooking process takes about 5-7 minutes total.
Expert Tips and Serving Ideas
- Eat the roasted pears with yogurt and granola for breakfast, or on your oatmeal, waffles, or pancakes.
- Serve the cooked pears by themselves sometime with roasted meats such as pork or chicken
- Add some sliced grilled chicken to this salad recipe for a more substantial meal.
- It’s super easy to tote this salad to work—pack up the components separately and assemble just before eating. (Bring extra for your hungry co-workers!)
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! The same candied technique works beautifully with whole pecans.
Yes! Make them a day or two before you’ll use them, they’ll stay great if well sealed and stored in the refrigerator.
Yes, many different types of cheese would work! Try blue cheese or any soft, crumbly cheese on this salad.
If you don’t have white balsamic on hand, use white wine vinegar, rice wine vinegar, or even fresh lemon juice instead.
More Recipes to Try:
My Favorite Cranberry Sauce: I absolutely LOVE this version!
Goat Cheese Toasts with Cranberry Compote: The perfect start to a great meal…
Crunchy Green Bean, Pea and Walnut Salad: So fresh and delicious, great for parties!
Roasted Nectarines with Caramel Sauce: A showstopper, and so delicious!
Carrots with Almonds: Simple and Perfect, a great side dish!
Deviled Eggs with Candied Bacon: Wonderful flavors, everyone asks for this recipe!
Roasted Spring Vegetables with Vinaigrette: Everyone is amazed at these incredible flavors!
Modern Carrot Salad: Easy, refreshing and full of flavor!
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Pan Roasted Pear SaladPrint Pin Rate
- Serves 4
- FOR THE PAN ROASTED PEARS
- 3 pears, Bartlett variety, quartered and cored
- 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 tablespoon leek
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups butter lettuce
- 1/2 radicchio, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup parsley, flat leaf (Italian), roughly chopped
- 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
- candied walnuts, recipe follows
- CANDIED NUTS
- 1 cup walnuts or pecans, raw
- 1/4 cup sugar, superfine
- 1 tbsp. butter, unsalted
- PAN ROAST THE PEARS
- Toss the pears with 2 teaspoons of the sugar and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl
- Heat a medium (12 inch) non-stick skillet, melt the butter and place the pears in the pan, cut side down in a single layer on medium-high heat
- Cook pears until the sides are golden, about 2-4 minutes per side, carefully turning with a small spatula to caramelize the other cut sides, another 2-4 minutes each.
- Turn heat off and with the skillet still sitting on the burner, add 2 tablespoons of the vinegar, gently coating the pears with the glaze
- Remove the pears carefully from the pan and transfer to a plate or dish to cool for 30 minutes before plating
- Make the vinaigrette In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the remaining 2 tablespoons of vinegar, the honey, and chopped leek. Season with salt and pepper.
- Tear the lettuce radicchio and parsley into pieces and add to the medium bowl with the vinaigrette, and toss gently. Divide the lettuce mixture between 4 individual serving plates, and top each portion with 2-3 pieces of the pan roasted pear, the candied walnuts, and the goat cheese. Drizzle with any remaining sauce from the bowl. Serve immediately.
- MAKE THE CANDIED NUTS
- Melt the butter In a large non-stick skillet on medium-high heat. Add the sugar and nuts, gently combining everything together using a non-stick spatula.
- Continue cooking, stirring frequently and adjusting the heat lower if necessary to avoid burning. As the sugar/butter mixture turns dark and syrupy, continue tossing the mixture gently in the pan to coat all the nuts. The process takes about 5 minutes.
- Transfer the nuts to a piece of parchment paper or non-stick wax paper and let them cool until ready to use
- Eat the roasted pears with yogurt and granola for breakfast!
- Serve the roasted pears with roasted meats like pork or chicken
- How about putting some on your oatmeal with maple syrup?
- The salad would be perfect with thin sliced grilled chicken breast too.
- It’s also super easy to tote this salad to work—pack up the components separately and assemble just before eating. (Bring extra for your hungry co-workers!)
- Super important to read the whole recipe before you begin
- Pay attention to the ingredient list and photos for the recipe
- If possible, prep your ingredients a little before you start
- Always use a sharp knife for safety
- Use the size of pan called for in the recipe
- For savory recipes, taste and season as you go
- Buy fresh, organic ingredients, locally sourced whenever possible
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated, known for their test kitchen and the wonderful recipes that come out of it! This recipe was originally published September, 2019 and was updated with new photos and instructions September, 2021.