Sweet, refreshing and full of fresh seasonal fruit! This easy side salad is the perfect way to transition to fall!
I feel like we’re in that awkward time of year where part of the country is still blazing hot with summer temps while the other part is just now starting to pull out all their cozy winter clothes… And let me tell ya, this is one confusing time for food bloggers! (You see as a blogger, I always try to be on top of the changing seasons and always have a vast variety of recipes in my arsenal.) But unfortunately I’m a summer girl through and through so whenever when fall and winter finally roll around, honestly my mind goes completely blank… Except when it comes to salads! Why is that you ask? Because all you have to do to transform a summer salad to fall is simply switch out the toppings for whatever’s in season, whip up a fun new dressing and BAM! Now you have a light and refreshing salad that’s perfect to counter all those heavier fall and winter meals! So here’s my first official “fall-ish” salad of the season: Autumn Pear Salad with Maple Mustard Vinaigrette!
This salad includes all of my favorite fall ingredients that are just now starting to come into season!
- Kale: Not a fan of kale? No problem! This salad is also great with spinach or mixed greens instead too!
- Pears: I used barlett pears for this recipe. (See below for other pears you could use too!)
- Red grapes: These can really be found any time of the year but they add so much sweetness to the salad and are a great contrast to the crunchiness of the pears.
- Feta cheese: I prefer using reduced fat feta but you can always use regular or non-fat feta too!
- Toasted pecans: Walnuts would also be great with this recipe too! (Directions for toasting nuts is below.)
What kind of pears should I use?
I love using barlett pears for this autumn pear salad because they’re incredibly juicy when fully ripe. (Plus they’re also a gorgeous green color too which makes this salad so pretty.) But you can also use a few other varieties too!
- D’anju pears: Subtly sweet with a slight hint of lemon and lime. (They’re a great “all purpose” kind of pear.)
- Asian pears: Super crunchy and crisp which pair so well with the sweet grapes.
- Bosc pears: More dense than most pears and are slightly sweet. (They also maintain they’re shaped better than most pears too so they’re great for roasting or poaching.)
How do I know when a pear is ripe?
The easiest way to tell if a pear is ripe or not is to gently squeeze the fruit near the stem at the top. If it gives in slightly, then it’s ready to go! If it’s still hard then it’s under ripe and if it gives in too much then it’s over ripe. WE want slightly UNDER RIPE pears for this salad! (The pears themselves tend to soften after being mixed with the dressing so if your pear is too ripe, it might turn to mush!😨)
How to make toasted pecans
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Then spread your pecans out on the baking sheet and bake them for 5-6 minutes or until they just start to darken. Take them out of the oven to cool and store them in an airtight container until you’re ready to eat!
How to make an easy maple mustard vinaigrette
This super easy vinaigrette doesn’t have to be used just for this salad. It’s also great on any other type of salad with fruit in it too!
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1tsp extra virgin olive oil
- Whisk all of these ingredients together and pour it over your salad.
Can I save my leftover autumn pear salad?
Absolutely! That’s one reason I love using kale for this salad recipe because it holds up so well to the rest of the ingredients and doesn’t become mushy if you still want to have it the next day. (Sometimes we’ll actually make the salad a day in advance and let the flavors all marinate together.)
More recipes like this:
- Strawberry Kale Salad with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing
- Cherry, Goat Cheese & Toasted Pecan Kale Salad
- Grape & Feta Kale Salad
- Healthy Italian Sub Salad
[Made one of my recipes? Make sure to tag my social media @kalefornia_kravings – I love seeing what you create!]
Autumn Pear Salad with Maple Mustard Vinaigrette
For the vinaigrette:
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp olive oil
For the salad:
- 1 bunch of kale, leaves cut off the stem and chopped (can use spinach or mixed greens instead)*
- 2 pears, diced
- 1 cup grapes, sliced in half
- ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
- ¾ cup pecans
- ½ of a lemon juiced (for massaging the kale)
- 1 tsp olive oil (for massaging the kale)
To toast the pecans:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread your pecans out on the baking sheet and bake them for 5-6 minutes or until they just start to darken.
To make the vinaigrette:
- Whisk all of your ingredients together in a bowl. Set it aside while you prepare the salad.
To make the salad:
- If using kale, drizzle 1 tsp of olive oil and the juice from ½ of a lemon over your chopped kale leaves. Rub the leaves together with your hands for 5 minutes or until the leaves begin to soften and turn a bright green color.
- Add the diced pears, grapes and feta cheese and toss with your vinaigrette. Top the salad with toasted pecans right before serving.