Every once in a while, a restaurant salad catches me off guard and I set off to investigate how it’s made.
I ask the server where the ingredients are from and what’s in the dressing and what makes it so…extra delicious?
One such salad inspired this 30-minute recipe, and it lives at Solstice Pizza in Hood River, Oregon – a must-visit if you’re ever in the Portland area and craving some killer gluten-free, vegan pizza.
The concept is easy, but it’s all in the texture and flavor combinations.
The base is gorgeous mixed greens.
The fruit is tender, ripe pear.
Dried cherries add a slight chew and tartness.
Super simple candied walnuts add crunch, nuttiness, and subtle sweetness.
And it’s all tossed in a tangy, 4-ingredient balsamic vinaigrette.
The result is a super fresh, semi-sweet salad with layers of flavor and texture.
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a picture #minimalistbaker on Instagram so we can see. Cheers, friends!
Pear Balsamic Salad with Dried Cherries and Candied Walnuts
- 1 heaping cup raw walnuts
- 2 tsp olive or coconut oil
- 1 Tbsp coconut sugar
- 2 tsp maple syrup (or agave nectar)
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 1 pinch each sea salt and black pepper
- 1 6-ounce bag mixed greens (organic when possible)
- 1 ripe Bosc or Bartlett Pear (thinly sliced lengthwise // stem and seeds removed)
- 1/4 cup dried cherries (or cranberries, though cherries are best!)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and add raw walnuts to a bare or parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Once oven is preheated, toast walnuts for 7 minutes. Then remove from oven and add remaining ingredients directly to the walnuts (oil, coconut sugar, maple syrup, sea salt, cinnamon and cayenne – optional). Use a spatula to thoroughly toss/combine.
- Place back in oven and roast for another 4-6 minutes or until fragrant and golden brown. Set aside to cool.
- In the meantime, prepare dressing by adding all ingredients to a jar (or mixing bowl) and shaking vigorously (or whisking) to combine. Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more balsamic for acidity, salt or pepper for flavor balance, or olive oil for creaminess. Set aside.
- To serve, add greens, half of the sliced pear, dried cherries, and half of the roasted walnuts to a large mixing/serving bowl. Drizzle with a bit of the dressing and toss to combine.
- Plate and garnish with remaining pears and walnuts, and serve with remaining dressing. Best when fresh, though leftovers store separately in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Store walnuts well sealed at room temperature.