Balsamic pear and walnut salad is the perfect salad for Fall and Winter months thanks to hearty, dark green kale, red pears, and walnuts; AND the greens and dressing can be tossed a day in advance!
Just because there's a chill in the air (or maybe snow on the ground, depending on where you live), doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to tossed green salads until Spring. Like this Asian pear with goat cheese salad, or the year round acceptable, and always classic, Caesar salad.
Why this recipe works
- Kale is a very hearty vegetable, that's perfect for the colder months in place of spring greens.
- This salad can be dressed and tossed up to a day in advance (wait to add the pear until right before serving).
- The ingredients are accessible, inexpensive, and minimal prep is needed.
- The dressing can be made up to 5 days in advance, shaken and tossed with the salad ingredients.
- Use a light, neutral flavored oil like canola oil, avocado oil, or extra light olive oil.
- I use red Anjou pears in this recipe, but you can use D'anjou, Coscia pears, or even Asian pears for an extra crispy texture.
- Avoid chopped walnuts, and use walnut halves.
How to make it
First, chop the kale. Rinse it well in a strainer until clean. Massage the kale (photo 1) until the leaves turn dark green, and become less firm. They will also shrink in volume.
For the dressing, whisk together the oil, balsamic vinegar, shallot, sugar and salt and pepper (photo 2).
Add the kale, shredded or grated parmesan cheese, sliced pears and walnuts to a large salad bowl (photo 3).
Pour half of the dressing around the outside of the bowl, so as to coat the inside of the bowl, then toss to combine (photo 4). Add more dressing to taste.
FAQ's, Tips and Tricks
- Kale is a very sturdy and hearty green. Massaging it is necessary to make it more tender and break down the fibrous structure.
- The standard ratio of oil to vinegar in a vinaigrette, is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. Adjust the amounts to taste.
- This salad and all it's ingredients can be made and tossed ahead of time, but the pears will turn brown despite the acid in the dressing. If you won't be serving this salad within 2 hours, wait to slice the pears until before serving.
It's better to have a pear that's slightly under ripe than a fully ripe pear, as they are too soft. Sweetness and crispness factors can be found here.
With a small knife, cut the pear into quarters (that's in half, then halves again), then slice away the stem and cores. Lay the cored quarters down on their flat side and slice vertically in equal width slices.
More chilly weather recipes that pack in the greens
Spicy Sausage and Kale Pasta is a one pan wonder that packs in everything you need for dinner in one pan.
Green Pasta is like a veggie packed pesto, tossed in silky pasta strands and doesn't skimp on the Parm sprinkle! It's a great way to get veggies in.
Try this recipe, and let me know what you think by leaving a rating, or even a comment! I love to get feedback, because my goal is to dish out dishes that readers and home cooks need.
Balsamic Pear and Walnut Salad
- 1 head kale trimmed of ribs, chopped and rinsed
- 1-2 red Anjou pears washed, cored, sliced thin
- 1 cup walnut halves
- 1 cup parmesan cheese shredded or grated
For the Balsamic Dressing
- ¾ cups lighter olive oil not extra virgin
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey can substitute 1 teaspoon sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cut kale away from the thick, fibrous ribs (the stem looking part that runs down the middle).
- Chop the kale, and rinse in a colander or strainer until clean.
- Massage washed and trimmed kale greens in a large bowl until dark green, not longer than 30 seconds.
- Whisk together oil, vinegar, honey, sugar, salt and pepper.
- Shred/grate the Parmesan cheese, measure out the walnuts and slice the pears.
- Add the kale, pears, walnuts and Parmesan to the bowl; drizzle half of the dressing around the outside of the bowl and toss to coat. Repeat with more dressing if desired.
- The kale must be massaged or it will be too difficult to chew.
- Salad can be made up to one day in advance, but if storing more than 2 hours, wait to add the sliced pears until before serving as they will turn brown.
- You will likely not need all of the dressing, start by only dressing with half of the dressing and taste to see if it needs more.
- Salt and pepper optional.