Fall Harvest Salad with Apples and Pears — Complete with crisp apples, tender juicy pears, pomegranate seeds, nuts, crumbled feta, and a tangy homemade honey maple balsamic vinaigrette! Whether you’re looking for a quick lunch idea, dinner side, or a holiday side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas, this FAST and EASY salad is sure to get rave reviews!
Table of Contents
- Easy Fall Salad with Apples & Pears
- Salad Ingredients
- How to Make a Leafy Green Fall Harvest Salad
- Ingredient Substitutions to Try
- What to Serve with This Fall Harvest Salad
- How to Store Leftover Salad and Vinaigrette
- Recipe FAQs
- More Easy Fall Salad Recipes:
- Fall Harvest Salad with Apples and Pears Recipe
Easy Fall Salad with Apples & Pears
I’ve got lots of salad recipes with apples in them (keep scrolling to see them) but this is the first pear salad recipe I’ve made and it won’t be the last! I just love the sweet and juicy flavor that comes from a perfectly ripe and tender pear.
They’re the perfect complement to the crisp and crunchy apples in this easy salad. ‘Tis the season for apples galore and you can use your favorites. More on that below.
To take this salad from so-so to oh-yes, I also included pomegranate arils, walnuts, and plenty of crumbled feta cheese. It’s amazing how just a little bit of cheese can really add to and round out any salad or side dish recipe.
The homemade balsamic vinaigrette is a whisk-together little number that’s ready in one minute flat. With the combination of honey and maple syrup for a touch of sweetness to counter the balsamic, it’s just the ticket and it’s not too heavy to weigh this harvest salad down nor drown out any delicate flavors.
Whether you’re in need of a weekday work lunch, a weeknight dinner side idea to celebrate the flavors of fall, or you’re looking for a holiday side dish that’s fresh, light, and easy – this pear apple pomegranate salad has all the bases covered.
Bonus: As written, the salad is naturally gluten-free and vegetarian (or vegan with a couple tweaks)! Having a holiday side dish recipe that’s GF and vegetarian is a huge win for both the chef and guests in attendance at your Thanksgiving dinner or meal.
For the fall green salad with apples and pears, you’ll want to have on hand the following easy-to-find and very common ingredients:
- Salad greens
- Pomegranate arils
- Feta or goat cheese
- Walnuts, pecans, or slivered almonds
For the homemade vinaigrette, you’ll need:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Maple syrup
- Black pepper
Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.
How to Make a Leafy Green Fall Harvest Salad
You can really prepare this easy fall salad how you’d like and what’s best for you. This is what I do:
- Add the salad greens to a large salad bowl or platter.
- Thinly slice the apples, pears, and fan the slices out over the greens.
- Sprinkle with the pom arils, cheese, and nuts.
- Whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl or shake them all together in a small jar with a lid.
- Evenly drizzle the dressing over the salad, toss as desired, and serve!
Ingredient Substitutions to Try
Other than soups, there’s nothing more flexible than the ingredients and options for what to put in a salad!
Here are the most common substitutions for this fall apple and pear salad:
- Salad greens – I like to use a “spring mix”. Ironically that this is more of a fall themed salad, but they’re nice “easy-going” greens that aren’t too bitter or tough, nor boring. Normally you’ll find a bit of spinach, arugula, radicchio, and more. A bit of kale is also nice. I wouldn’t use iceberg lettuce or solely spinach either, but do as you wish.
- Apples – I used Gala and Fuji. Honeycrisp are also great for a sweet-tart apple. If you want it more on the tart side, Granny Smith apples are nice. Mix-and-match based on what you like and have on hand.
- Pears – I use Bartlett pears which are one of the most common types of pears. Anjou pears are also easy to find and great. If you’re using ‘fancy pears’ like Bosc or Asian pears, they’re also fine but I suggest peeling them. The skin is too tough for my liking.
- Cheese – I used crumbled feta (you can use fat free to save calories and fat if that’s important), but goat cheese would be amazing too. If you want to keep this salad as a totally vegan option if you’re serving it for Thanksgiving or a Christmas celebration, you can usually find crumbled vegan cheeses with ease these days. Parmesan or blue cheese is also an option if that’s your speed. If you’re a blue cheese on salads person, check out my Apple Cranberry Salad with Blue Cheese!
- Pomegranate arils – Did you know the seeds are actually called arils? Yes they are. A huge tip here is to buy a pomegranate that’s already been cleaned and the seeds are sold in a clear plastic container in Trader Joe’s and most well stocked grocery stores in the produce section. If you’re making this for the holidays especially, don’t bother cleaning your own pomegranate. It’s a messy job with red juice that runs everywhere and stains like crazy. Splurge and buy them for your salad with pomegranate seeds.
- Dried cranberries – If you’re not into pomegranate seeds in salad (and some people aren’t – they can be bitter and they are very crunchy at times), opt for dried cranberries instead. Lower sugar varieties are a-okay if you can find them. Trader Joe’s does not carry them but name brands sold in regular grocery stores exist.
- Nuts – I used chopped walnuts for crunch but pecans or slivered almonds are also good options. Also if you’d like to make a batch of Candied Pecans and use those, go for it. Homemade candies nuts of any kind are over-the-top delish, but store bought versions are of course fine. Not a nut person or someone is allergic? Just omit!
- Balsamic vinegar – It will be a totally different flavor, but apple cider vinegar will work as the dressing for pear salad. Fall salad with pomegranate dressing is also an option by looking for a infused olive oils or pomegranate infused vinegars. They are usually artisanal items but so great if you can find them!
- Honey + Maple Syrup – Both add necessary sweetness to the vinaigrette but if for some reason you only want to use one or the other, and not both, that’s fine – again due to allergies or wanting to keep the salad vegan. Maple syrup adds more fall flavor than honey.
- Salt and Pepper – They are your friend! When you’re trying to properly season fruits and vegetables and accentuate their natural essences, don’t forget the salt. If your vinaigrette tastes at all flat, boring, or like it’s just missing something – it probably is missing adequate salt. Don’t be afraid to add sufficient salt and pepper, to taste of course.
What to Serve with This Fall Harvest Salad
Chances are you’re going to be serving this as a side salad to accompany another main dish, and possibly as a Thanksgiving side dish or Christmas Eve side dish!
Check out this comprehensive list of Thanksgiving sides that are fan favorites too.
Getting back to serving the salad with balsamic vinaigrette, you can:
- Either drizzle it over the whole thing in a big bowl and toss.
- Or you can have everyone take the portion of salad and drizzle-and-dress their own individual salads.
How to Store Leftover Salad and Vinaigrette
Salads are without a doubt best served as quickly after you prep and assemble them, especially when there are greens involved.
Therefore, leftovers don’t always keep super well. However, my suggestion is putting any leftover salad with apples, pears, and pomegranate into an airtight plastic container and storing in the fridge for perhaps another 2-3 days.
However, any extra vinaigrette you have will keep airtight in the fridge for at least 2 weeks. Bonus!
I do not peel them because part of the visual apple for the salad comes from seeing those bright red slivers of apple skin peeking out. Additionally, if you try to peel a sufficiently ripe pear, they can be quite soft and a bit tricky to slice neatly but keeping the skin on makes it easier and neater. However, peel if you wish.
As I mentioned, most salads are best consumed right after you make them. Because both apples and pears are prone to oxidizing, this isn’t a great make-ahead salad.
To prevent some browning, you could possibly squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the fruit. However, that could make things pretty tart and tangy, so be careful!
Although if you want to assemble it an hour or two ahead of time, and keep the bowl or salad platter in the fridge, and tightly wrapped with plastic wrap, you can probably get away with it. I wouldn’t try for more than that though – no one wants brown looking fruit on a special holiday side dish!
It sure is!
The salad is definitely vegetarian and if you either omit the cheese (or use a vegan cheese substituted) as well as using maple syrup rather than honey, it’s vegan too!
It’s always a huge win to have a holiday side dish recipe that’s BOTH gluten-free AND vegetarian/vegan!
You sure can. Make sure to check out the above section for common substitutions. But if you want to add roasted Brussels sprouts, cooked and crumbled bacon, a bit of Dijon mustard in the vinaigrette, it’s all good!
Pin This Recipe
- 12 to 16 ounces "spring mix" lettuce or salad greens
- 2 medium to large Gala, Fuji, or Honeycrisp apples, thinly sliced (I do not peel)
- 2 ripe Bartlett pears, thinly sliced (I do not peel)
- 3/4 cup pomegranate arils (dried cranberries may be substituted)
- ⅓ cup feta cheese crumbles (fat free okay, or goat cheese may be substituted)
- ¼ cup walnuts, finely chopped (chopped pecans or slivered almonds may be substituted)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 to 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 to 3 tablespoons honey, or to taste
- 1 to 2 tablespoons maple syrup, or to taste
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- To a large bowl or salad platter, add the greens.
- After slicing the apples, fan out the slices in little piles over the top of the greens. Do the same with the pears.
- Evenly sprinkle the pomegranate airls, cheese, and nuts over the top; set aside momentarily. Note - Use a vegan cheese product to keep salad vegan.
- To a small bowl, add the olive oil, and while whisking, drizzle the balsamic, honey, maple syrup slowly. Tip - If you have a small glass jar with a lid, add all the ingredients (including salt and pepper), seal, and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. This is my preferred method rather than a bowl + whisk. Note - If you're making this as a strictly vegan recipe, use maple syrup in place of the honey.
- Add the salt, pepper, and whisk to combine. Taste the vinaigrette and make any necessary flavor adjustments including more honey or maple syrup for sweetness. And/or more salt and pepper. Tip - If the vinaigrette is at all flat or boring, it likely needs more salt. Don't be afraid to add it because you're flavoring a large quantity of fruits and vegetables and so don't be shy about adding salt if it needs it.
- Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad, toss, and serve. Alternatively, you can plate the salad and people can drizzle vinaigrette over their individual portions. Although I find that it works and tasted better if you toss the whole thing together in a big bowl.
- Salad is best served fresh, especially after being dressed. Extra undressed salad + fruit may keep airtight in the fridge for up to 2-3 days potentially. Extra vinaigrette will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
- Salad greens - I like to use a "spring mix". Ironically that this is more of a fall themed salad, but they're nice "easy-going" greens that aren't too bitter or tough, nor boring. Normally you'll find a bit of spinach, arugula, radicchio, and more. A bit of kale is also nice. I wouldn't use iceberg lettuce or solely spinach either, but do as you wish.
- Apples - I used Gala and Fuji. Honeycrisp are also great for a sweet-tart apple. If you want it more on the tart side, Granny Smith apples are nice. Mix-and-match based on what you like and have on hand.
- Pears - I use Bartlett pears which are one of the most common types of pears. Anjou pears are also easy to find and great. If you're using 'fancy pears' like Bosc or Asian pears, they're also fine but I suggest peeling them. The skin is too tough for my liking.
- Cheese - I used crumbled feta (you can use fat free to save calories and fat if that's important), but goat cheese would be amazing too. If you want to keep this salad as a totally vegan option if you're serving it for Thanksgiving or a Christmas celebration, you can usually find crumbled vegan cheeses with ease these days.
- Pomegranate arils - Did you know the seeds are actually called arils? Yes they are. A huge tip here is to buy a pomegranate that's already been cleaned and the seeds are sold in a clear plastic container in Trader Joe's and most well stocked grocery stores in the produce section. If you're making this for the holidays especially, don't bother cleaning your own pomegranate. It's a messy job with red juice that runs everywhere and stains like crazy. Splurge and buy them for your salad with pomegranate seeds.
- Dried cranberries - If you're not into pomegranate seeds in salad (and some people aren't - they can be bitter and they are very crunchy at times), opt for dried cranberries instead. Lower sugar varieties are fine.
- Nuts - I used chopped walnuts but pecans or slivered almonds are also good options. Also if you'd like to make a batch of Candied Pecans and use those, go for it. Homemade candies nuts of any kind are over-the-top delish, but store bought versions are of course fine. Not a nut person or someone is allergic? Just omit!
- Balsamic vinegar - It will be a totally different flavor, but apple cider vinegar will work as the dressing for pear salad. Fall salad with pomegranate dressing is also an option by looking for a infused olive oils or pomegranate infused vinegars.
- Honey + Maple Syrup - Both add necessary sweetness to the vinaigrette but if for some reason you only want to use one or the other, and not both, that's fine - again due to allergies or wanting to keep the salad vegan. Maple syrup adds more fall flavor than honey.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 487Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 576mgCarbohydrates: 71gFiber: 18gSugar: 33gProtein: 17g
More Easy Fall Salad Recipes:
Spinach Apple Salad with Cheddar & Cranberries — The flavors just POP in this fast, easy, and healthy spinach salad! There are so many wonderful textures and flavors in every bite you can’t help but like it!
Apple, White Cheddar, & Grilled Chicken Salad — All the flavors just POP in this fast, easy, and healthy salad!! The Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette doubles as marinade + salad dressing to save time!!
Waldorf Salad — Classic and timeless, apple Waldorf salad is always a crowd favorite especially when apples are in season! It makes a great holiday side dish that your guests will devour thanks to a sweet and creamy dressing that coats a mixture of apples, grapes, celery, walnuts, and more! A highly flexible recipe so feel free to substitute, get creative, and make it your own.
Apple Cranberry Salad with Blue Cheese — All the flavors of fall in one gorgeous, hearty, and healthy salad!! The easy, tart-and-sweet dressing is just bursting with flavor!!
Chickpea and Sweet Potato Bowl — A big ole round bowl full of goodness just like Buddha!! The bowls are fast, EASY, naturally vegan and gluten-free! If you need a HEALTHY recipe that tastes like comfort food, this is it!!
Roasted Sweet Potato Salad — This roasted sweet potato salad is tossed in a honey Dijon dressing. The sweet and savory flavors of this potato salad are to die for!
Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad — A HEARTY salad that celebrates the flavors of fall including roasted Brussels sprouts and dried cranberries along with quinoa, chickpeas, spinach, and goat cheese!! Perfect for lunch, a meatless main, or a HEALTHY side dish on your holiday table!!
Roasted Chicken and Sweet Potato Harvest Salad – Fall-inspired ingredients including tender sweet potatoes, juicy chicken, red onions, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds topped with a honey apple cider vinaigrette!!
Classic House Salad — An EASY side salad recipe to serve with your favorite entree or alongside the main course! Made with common ingredients that you likely have already, but it’s flexible and adaptable so you can ADD anything else you have on hand! The simple vinaigrette is easy, light, and flavorful but your favorite salad dressing also works.
Kale Caesar Salad — I used kale rather than romaine and fried chickpeas instead of croutons. They’re crispy, crunchy, and I added plenty of salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne for a kick.
Salmon Niçoise Salad with Basil Vinaigrette — An ELEGANT French-inspired salad with juicy salmon, tender potatoes, soft-boiled eggs, crispy haricots verts, and more. And it’s all drizzled with a super FLAVORFUL fresh basil vinaigrette!! This BEAUTIFUL salad has something for everyone!!