Pear Salad with Dried Cherries and Candied Walnuts

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Bowl of our super simple salad made with pears, dried cherries, and candied walnuts

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.

Fresh pears for making our vegan Pear Salad with Dried Cherries and Candied Walnuts

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.

Baking sheet with Candied Walnuts for topping salad
Mason jar with ingredients for making balsamic vinaigrette for our Pear Salad recipe

The result is a super fresh, semi-sweet salad with layers of flavor and texture.

This is the perfect entrée when you want something healthy but filling! It would also make a delicious side to dishes like pizza, pasta, or veggie burgers this summer.

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!

Bowl of our gluten-free vegan Pear Salad with Dried Cherries and Candied Walnuts
A bowl of our Easy Pear Salad with Dried Cherries and Candied Walnuts for an easy fall salad

Pear Balsamic Salad with Dried Cherries and Candied Walnuts

Incredibly flavorful, 30-minute pear balsamic salad with dried cherries and easy candied walnuts! A sweet and savory plant-based side or entrée.
Author Minimalist Baker
Bowl of Pear and Candied Walnut Salad for a healthy fall salad
4.94 from 16 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 3
Course Entrée, Side
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly No
Does it keep? 3 Days



  • 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.


*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with dressing.

Nutrition (1 of 3 servings)

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 525 Carbohydrates: 24.4 g Protein: 12.3 g Fat: 45.8 g Saturated Fat: 4.3 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 128 mg Fiber: 5.7 g Sugar: 12 g

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My Rating:

  1. Lu says

    Doubled the recipe! Glad I did as we loved loved loved it! Very delicious! Definitely use crushed red peppers if you like spice. I sprinkled it on the salad as well as using the ground cayenne with the toasted walnuts! Definitely will make again!


    Can’t wait to make this salad Using pecans instead. Can I candy ahead of time? And don’t have coconut sugar. What can I use as a substitute?

  3. Nicole says

    I made this with kale, and it was yummy but I’m sure it’d be even better with mixed greens as per the recipe. This would be super dreamy with some goat cheese (I’m not vegan), but it was still lovely.

  4. rose says

    Can you candy the walnuts ahead of time? Want to have this for Thanksgiving, but since I am the only one cooking for 8, I am trying to plan as many make-ahead items as possible :)
    Thanks in advance! Looks delish

  5. Elizabeth says

    This was absolutely delicious. The candied walnuts are very yummy. My greens were romaine, spinach, and arugula. I will definitely make this again.

  6. Sarah says

    When I was making this I was a little skeptical as the only veggie was lettuce but I have loved every recipe I’ve tried from this blog so I stuck with it…. and WOW this was incredible! So simple. A beautiful flavour and texture profile. When I was doing the nuts I only used a tsp of oil and 1/2 tbsp coconut sugar and 1/2 tbsp maple syrup and I added a lot more cinnamon. thank you for yet another amazing recipe xx

  7. Stacey says

    I brought this to a casual New Year’s Eve dinner where the host served lasagna. It was a HUGE hit. I did add some gorgonzola cheese. Super easy to fix and looked festive.

  8. L Roy says

    Loved this recipe! I used monk fruit sweetener instead of coconut sugar since my husband is diabetic. I also used a fig orange balsamic and added sliced figs to the recipe. This made a fairly large batch of dressing and a nice blend of sweet and savory.

  9. Molly B says

    Can I give this SIX stars please?!? Truly excellent recipe! Very filling And great blend of flavors. 10/10 would eat it again! Even the picky hubs enjoyed it.

  10. Terri Johanson says

    Wow what a find! We recently moved from WA state…across from Hood River, OR the current location of the Solstice restaurant. We’ve loved everything at Solstice for years and this salad is one of our favorites! I was thrilled to find it when I was searching for a salad with pears…hoping that I could modify one to be as much as possible like the ones we loved at Solstice! Imagine my surprise when I found the recipe on your site! Thank You!

  11. Cindy Castruita says

    I love the flavor combinations of this recipe. Super tasty! I have a question. Although I love the candied walnuts, mine turned out very sticky. It uncomfortable having them get stuck to my teeth. Any suggestions? Did I bake them too long? Maybe they got too candied?

  12. Rob says

    I know this is an old thread but I had to tell you I served this as a side with biscuits and gravy and my husband thought he died and went to heaven…thank you.

    • Brittany S. says

      You could toss them in some lemon juice or there is a vitamin c based food preserver powder. You can find the powder in the grocery store but lemon juice works just as well. Common theme? Vitamin C/ Ascorbic Acid slows or prevents the browning.

  13. Christine says

    I recently took this salad to a BBQ……….high praise from everyone! Who would have thought that a salad could be the star of the table…..absolutely delicious ?

  14. L Char says

    Delighted to have this recipe as we were just there at Solstice Pizza in Hood River and had this salad. So memorable that we wanted to make it at home. And you provided us with the exact recipe! Thank you.

  15. ashwini says

    i just came across this blog.
    Before i came across this blog, my own version of making a similar salad (learned it from my sister) she used to add candied pecans and pears in mixed greens. They were equally delicious.
    Thank you so much for this blog and sharing.
    Love it!!!

  16. Cissy Paul says

    I just made this for a friend recovering from surgery. I couldn’t wait until tomorrow to test it. Totally addicted to the nuts! Thanks to my new friendship with Rowena Humphrey’s who follows you too, I”m trying lots of vegan recipes. I’ll love coconut sugar too.
    Thanks for all the time and dedication you put into all your recipes, Dana!

  17. Laura Wolfson says

    I toasted the walnuts in my toaster oven at 350 but 7 minutes was too long prior to putting the glaze on them. A lot of them burned.

    • Lynn says

      I followed the recipe exactly other than using brown sugar (which I did not have) instead of coconut sugar. This simple salad turned out great! My husband said it was the best salad I have ever made!!!! We are having it again tonight! Thanks~

  18. Hope says

    My husband has been struggling with me learning how to cook plant-based and he said this meal was 10 times better than anything I had made before (this has been going on like 4 months….). I was a little offended considering this recipe is so easy but I was so glad he loved it!

  19. Lady Janet says

    Thanks for sharing this remarkable recipe with us. It looks sumptuous and fascinating. Definately, i will try this out with family on our next picnic to experience the good feeling of the yum together. Awesome post. Kudos!!!

  20. Lin says

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. I am going to add goat cheese as one poster suggested and will be a complete lunch for us.

  21. Alane says

    YUMMYYYYYYYY! This salad is light and refreshing. My husband loved it, especially with the surgared walnuts on it. It is sweet but oh so good. Thanks for sharing Dana!. I love this recipe.

  22. Helen says

    Fantastic!! Served this salad tonight for dinner and it was a big hit. I had to hide the candied walnuts while I prepared the salad as they were disappearing quickly! Definitely awesome!

  23. Noel says

    I always look forward to your wonderful recipes! Such a great surprise to open at work! I made this last night and it was just fantastic and delicious so many diverse flavors! Thanks for rocking it!

  24. Lauren says

    This sounds totally up my alley. I’m a massive pear + walnut fan :) pinning for future delicious meals!

  25. Brittany says

    Oh, Solstice Pizza!! <3 <3 <3

    Candied walnuts are one of the best salad toppings. Combine them with fresh pear slices and dried cherries and you're on to something!

  26. Julia @ Sprinkles & Saturdays says

    Yum! This has a bit of a fall vibe to it but then the cherries totally mix things up! Love it.

  27. Emily @ Robust Recipes says

    Looks amazing. The color of that pear is stunning! I adore candied walnuts on a salad, they’re the best!!