Looking for a wholesome, vibrant salad that is perfect for entertaining? Our Pear Quinoa Salad recipe is the answer! This salad boasts a delightful contrast of textures - the crunch of fresh pears, the soft, fluffy quinoa, and creamy goat cheese. Everything is brought together with a zippy dressing that never fails to delight.
What combines the heartiness of grain, the sweetness of fresh fruit, and the tangy burst of vinaigrette?
This Pear Quinoa Salad!
This salad is a delightful mix of fluffy quinoa, crisp, juicy pears, and a homemade vinaigrette that ties it all together beautifully.
We're tossing in some crunchy walnuts and creamy feta cheese to add a gourmet touch. This salad comes together so effortlessly, it's a recipe your whole family will adore.
Plus, it's a great way to sneak in some healthy grains and fruits into your loved ones' meals without them even noticing!
- Pears (Red Bartlett) - These are the star of our salad. Their sweet, juicy nature pairs wonderfully with the other ingredients. If you can't find Red Bartletts, any ripe and flavorful pear will do.
- White wine - It adds a subtle, sophisticated flavor to our salad. If you prefer a non-alcoholic version, apple juice or white grape juice are great alternatives.
- Sugar - Just a touch of sweetness to balance out the tanginess of the vinaigrette. You could also use honey or agave nectar if you prefer.
- Balsamic vinegar - The dark, tangy goodness of balsamic vinegar gives our salad its distinctive taste. For a milder flavor, try using apple cider vinegar instead.
- Shallot or red onion - Shallots add a delicate, slightly sweet flavor while red onions give a punchier kick. Choose according to your preference.
- Garlic - A classic flavor enhancer, garlic adds depth and aroma to our salad. If you're not a fan, feel free to skip it.
- Salt and fresh ground pepper - These pantry staples season our salad and bring out the flavors of the other ingredients.
- Olive oil - It forms the base of our vinaigrette. For a different twist, you could try avocado oil or grapeseed oil.
- Mixed spinach and arugula - These leafy greens provide a fresh, peppery base for our salad. Feel free to substitute with your favorite salad mix.
- Cooked quinoa - This super grain adds a delightful nuttiness and a boost of protein. You can swap it out for couscous or bulgur wheat if you'd like.
- Goat cheese or nut cheese - The creamy tanginess of goat cheese complements our salad perfectly. If you're vegan or lactose intolerant, nut cheese is a fantastic alternative.
- Toasted walnuts - A sprinkle of toasted walnuts adds a wonderful crunch and a boost of heart-healthy fats. Almonds or pecans would work well too!
Step by Step
- Start by combining wine and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil.
- Prepare the pears by cutting their bottoms straight across for them to stand upright. Place them carefully in the saucepan, adding water if needed until they're half-submerged. Cover and simmer on medium-low until soft - around 35 minutes. Once cooled, slice and discard the core.
- While the pears are poaching, prepare the dressing. Combine vinegar, shallot, garlic, salt, and pepper in a blender. Gradually add olive oil while blending.
- Assemble the salad by mixing the greens, quinoa, goat cheese, and sliced pears. Toss with your desired amount of dressing.
- Finish off by topping the salad with toasted walnuts before serving.
Tips and Tricks
- Picking the Perfect Pears: For many years, I didn’t know how to tell if a pear was ripe. Then I learned that you could jut apply gentle pressure to the neck of the pear with your thumb. If it yields to pressure, it’s ripe. If it doesn’t it isn’t.
- What Kind of Pear?: When choosing pears for this salad, look for ones that are ripe but still firm. Red Bartlett pears work great in this recipe, but you can also use Anjou or Bosc pears.
- Quinoa Quirks: Rinse your quinoa before cooking to get rid of its natural coating, which can sometimes taste bitter. Also, remember that quinoa expands as it cooks, so adjust your portions accordingly!
- Dressing it Up: Don't be afraid to play around with the vinaigrette! Try adding a little honey for extra sweetness, or some Dijon mustard for a bit of zing.
- Cheese Choices: Goat cheese adds a beautiful creaminess to this salad, but if you're not a fan, feta or blue cheese would also work well. For a vegan option, try a dairy-free nut cheese.
- Make Ahead Magic: If you're planning on serving this salad for a party or gathering, you can prepare the quinoa, poach the pears, and make the dressing ahead of time. Just assemble everything right before serving to keep the salad fresh and crisp.
- Kid-Friendly Version: To make this salad more appealing to the little ones, try substituting the wine with apple juice when poaching the pears, and maybe add some dried cranberries for an extra pop of sweetness.
- Nutty Notes: Toasting the walnuts really brings out their flavor and adds a lovely crunch to the salad. You could also try using pecans or slivered almonds for a different kind of crunch.
You May Also Like
- If you're a fan of Italian flavors, you'll absolutely love our Caprese Quinoa Salad, a refreshing blend of ripe tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil with a nutritious quinoa twist.
- Our Lentil Quinoa Salad is a hearty, protein-packed option that combines earthy lentils with fluffy quinoa for a satisfying lunch or dinner.
- Spice up your mealtime with the Southwestern Quinoa Salad, packed with black beans, corn, and a tangy lime dressing that will transport your taste buds to the heart of Texas.
- For a sweet, tropical spin on your salad, try the Mango Quinoa Salad, a vibrant mix of juicy mango, quinoa, and fresh herbs that's like a beach vacation in a bowl.
Pear Quinoa Salad with Walnuts & Goat Cheese
- 4 pears Red Bartlett, peeled
- 2 ½ cups white wine
- ¼ cup coconut palm sugar or organic sugar
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 shallot chopped or 1 Tablespoon red onion
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- ½ cup olive oil
- 10 cups mixed spinach and arugula
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 4 ounces goat cheese or nut cheese
- ¼ cup walnuts toasted
- In a medium saucepan, combine wine and sugar. Bring to a boil.
- Cut the bottoms straight across so that the pears can stand up. Carefully place the pears in a saucepan. Add water if necessary so that the pears are submerged about half way up. Cover the pot and turn to medium-low. Poach until the pears are soft, about 35 minutes. (They should be easy to cut but still hold their shape.) Allow to cool and slice, discarding core.
- Meanwhile, Make the dressing by combining the vinegar, shallot, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender. Add in olive oil in a steady stream.
- Put salad together by combining the greens, quinoa, goat cheese and pears. Toss with desired amount of dressing. Top with walnuts and serve.