Salads

Winter Salad with Pears and Candied Pecans

at a glance
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 6 Servings

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Loaded with pears, candied pecans, goat cheese, and dried cranberries, this salad is the most delicious addition to your next festive spread.

Mixed green salad garnished with goat cheese, candied pecans, pears, and dried cranberries in a large, white bowl on a blue table surrounded by small bowls of garnish, diced pears, salad dressing, and salad servers.

Winter Salad with Pears and Candied Pecans

This salad …WOW. It’s incredible! The flavors of the pears, candied pecans, goat cheese, dried cranberries, and slightly-sweet, slightly-tangy homemade dressing make my tastebuds sing. It’s really delicious served alongside a simple protein and starchy side, and it’s also dynamite as part of a super festive holiday spread.

Winter Salad Ingredients

Below, you’ll find a few sets of ingredients: one for the candied pecans, one for the salad itself, and one for the sweet, tangy homemade dressing. We’re all about taking shortcuts in the kitchen (so feel free to buy a premade dressing if needed), but if you have the 5 extra minutes, the homemade dressing really takes the salad to the next level. 

Top down view of salad ingredients on a grey and white marble surface.

For the Candied Pecans

  • 1 pound of pecan halves
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of cayenne

For the Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of poppy seeds
  • Juice of 1 lemon

For the Salad

  • 5 ounces of mixed greens
  • 2 green pears, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup of candied pecans
  • ½ cup of goat cheese crumbles
  • ¼ cup of dried cranberries

Ingredient Modifications and Variations

This salad is spot on as is, but if you’re looking for ways to change it up, we have ideas! 

  • Make it dairy-free – this one’s easy! Simply omit the goat cheese to make your salad dairy-free.
  • Use a different fruit – swap the pears for chopped apples or pomegranate ariels.
  • Use a different nut – candy walnuts or cashews instead of pecans (you’ll still use this recipe, just swap the pecans!).
  • Use a store-bought dressing – feel free to swap the homemade dressing for store-bought if you’re short on time.

How to Make a Winter Salad with Candied Pecans

The process is incredibly easy (as most salads are!), but if you’re candying your own pecans, you’ll want to leave time for that (about an hour from start to cooled and hardened finish). Here’s the full process:

Hand holding whisk whisking salad dressing ingredients together in a white bowl.
Hand pouring salad dressing over the top of a mixed green salad garnished with goat cheese crumbles, diced pears, candied pecans, and dried cranberries.

For the Pecans

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (if desired).
  2. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, sea salt, cayenne, egg white, vanilla extract, and water to a bowl and stir until combined.
  3. Add the pecans to the bowl with the brown sugar mixture and stir until all of the pecans are fully coated.
  4. Transfer the pecans to a sheet pan, spread them out, and bake them at 350°F for 20 minutes.
  5. Once the pecans are out of the oven, let them cool completely (this is important!) so that they’ll harden.

For the Dressing

  1. Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a mason jar and shake until fully combined.

For the Salad

  1. Add the salad greens to a large bowl, then top with the chopped pears, goat cheese, dried cranberries, and candied pecans.
  2. Just before serving, pour the dressing over the salad and toss.
  3. Serve and enjoy!

Tips for Making a Great Salad

Salads aren’t always beautiful and show-stopping! Here are our best tips for turning blah salads into stunners:

  • Use lots of toppings – this is where the flavor lives, y’all! Pack the flavors in and top your salad greens with all of the goods.
  • Make a homemade dressing – if you have the time, make the homemade dressing! Homemade dressings are incredibly easy to make and level up ANY salad. Here’s a list of all of our salad dressings.
  • Mix up the texture – use a variety of ingredients with different textures for the yummiest salad. Try fruits (fresh or dried), raw veggies, nuts, and cheese!
  • Add color – this one is less about taste and more about visual appeal! Add colorful fruits and veggies to your salad to make it really pleasing to the eye.
Close up view of mixed green salad garnished with diced pears, goat cheese crumbles, candied pecans, and dried cranberries with dressing.

What to Serve with Winter Salad

Serve this delicious, texture-rich winter salad alongside a protein main (pork tenderloin, a whole chicken, or a stuffed pork loin would all be delicious) and a starchy side (parsnip mash, and basic, no-stir polenta would be great options).

Q What type of greens to use for a winter salad?
A

We used mixed greens here, but feel free to use any dark leafy green that you love! Arugula would be delicious here too.

Q Can I make winter salad ahead?
A

You can, but I actually prefer to store the ingredients together in the fridge (in a meal bin) vs. assembling the salad ahead of time. This way, your salad stays super crisp and fresh! Find our favorite meal bins HERE.

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Winter Salad with Pears and Candied Pecans

By: Cassy Joy Garcia
No ratings yet
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
Servings: 6 Servings
Loaded with pears, candied pecans, goat cheese, and dried cranberries, this salad is the most delicious addition to your next festive spread.

Ingredients  

For the Candied Pecans

  • 1 pound pecan halves
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne

For the Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • Juice of 1 lemon

For the Salad

  • 5 ounces mixed greens
  • 2 green pears cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup candied pecans
  • ½ cup goat cheese crumbles
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries

Instructions

For the Candied Pecans

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (if desired).
  • Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, sea salt, cayenne, egg white, vanilla extract, and water to a bowl and stir until combined.
  • Add the pecans to the bowl with the brown sugar mixture and stir until all of the pecans are fully coated.
  • Transfer the pecans to a sheet pan, spread them out, and bake them at 350°F for 20 minutes.
  • Once the pecans are out of the oven, let them cool completely (this is important!) so that they'll harden.

For the Dressing

  • Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a mason jar and shake until fully combined.

For the Salad

  • Add the salad greens to a large bowl, then top with the chopped pears, goat cheese, dried cranberries, and candied pecans.
  • Just before serving, pour the dressing over the salad and toss.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Ingredient Modifications and Variations:
  • Make it dairy-free – this one’s easy! Simply omit the goat cheese to make your salad dairy-free.
  • Use a different fruit – swap the pears for chopped apples or pomegranate ariels.
  • Use a different nut – candy walnuts or cashews instead of pecans (you’ll still use this recipe, just swap the pecans!).
  • Use a store-bought dressing – feel free to swap the homemade dressing for store-bought if you’re short on time.
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