On Christmas Eve I made this salad and it was one of the highlights of our holiday meal. Let’s be honest, that usually isn’t the case with the salad. We had a veritable Italian feast, and everyone was talking at the table about this pear vinaigrette, the creamy goat cheese, the sweet dried fruit and the crunchy roasted nuts (get the Trader Joe’s roasted sesame almonds if you can find them!). I even saw a few people go up for second helpings of the salad, the salad!!  I sat there kicking myself because I didn’t write down any of the ingredients or measurements as I was making it, and I knew I’d be working backwards trying to figure out what the heck I did to make it work. Well, I put in the time and got experimenting to recreate it so that I could share the details here — it makes a delicious lunch or side dish for entertaining — get the full recipe below:

Winter Salad with Pear Vinaigrette.
  • 2 Pears, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Cup of Apple Cider
  • 1 Tbsp of Fig Jam
  • 1 Small Clove of Garlic
  • ½ Cup of Olive Oil
  • ½ Cup of Balsamic Vinegar
  • Black Pepper
  • Mixed Greens
  • 4 oz Goat Cheese, crumbled
  • ¼ Cup of Red Grapes, sliced
  • ¼ Cup of Dried Cranberries or Raisins
  • ¼ Cup of Roasted Almonds, roughly chopped
  • Chicken, cooked and diced (optional)
  1. Combine pears, cider, and fig jam in a small saucepan and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the pears have softened and the mixture has slightly reduced. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Combine pear-cider mixture with garlic, olive oil and vinegar in a food processor and blend until smooth. Season with black pepper to taste.
  3. Assemble the salad by layering mixed greens with crumbled goat cheese, sliced red grapes, dried cranberries or raisin, and chopped roasted almonds. Optional: top with diced chicken.
  4. Lightly dress the salad with the pear vinaigrette and serve with additional dressing on the side.