A delicious spinach pear salad topped with Gouda cheese, toasted hazelnuts, and pomegranate seeds, all tossed in a sweet and tangy white wine vinaigrette with maple syrup. Vegetarian, gluten-free, and packed with healthy ingredients.
A delicious and well-balanced salad has four things: something sweet, something savory, something crunch, and something creamy! This spinach pear salad has all of the above and gets bonus points for the stunning colors as well!
The vibrant red and green colors make it a festive salad to grace your holiday table! With the toasted hazelnuts and gouda, it is fancy and indulgent, but it can be our secret that this spinach pear salad incredibly easy to prepare!
Reasons You'll Love This Recipe
- The pomegranate and pear adds delicious juicy flavor and sweetness that pairs perfectly with the Gouda and crunchy hazelnuts
- it's simple to prepare but is perfect for a special occasion
- The presentation is beautiful, making it great for a holiday meal!
Watch the video below to see exactly how I prepped this salad. It’s so easy! You can find more of my recipe videos on my YouTube channel.
- Spinach- or any leafy green. Arugula would be a great alternative!
- Pomegranate seeds - which you can de-seed in advance. See how to eat a pomegranate for instructions on how to easily remove the seeds.
- Gouda - we went for a regular gouda, but you could be adventurous and try different flavors! Goat cheese or feta cheese would be a delicious alternative to Gouda as well.
- Pear- we used a Bartlett pear for this recipe, but really any pear will be great in this pear salad including Bosc or Anjou.
- Hazelnuts - be sure to take the extra time to toast them...this makes ALL the difference in this salad! If you are short on hazelnuts, almonds or walnuts would be a great alternative.
- White wine vinaigrette - we are using my favorite white wine vinaigrette in this recipe. It is tangy but neutral and lets all the other flavors shine.
Step By Step Directions
In a pan, toast hazelnuts over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden brown. This will take around 10 minutes.
Shake together all vinaigrette ingredients.
Combine all salad ingredients and toss in the dressing. Serve immediately.
Denise's Tips for the BEST salad
- toast hazelnuts - we highly recommend doing this as it brings out so much nutty flavor. This can be done a week or more ahead of time!
- don't cut pear ahead - while the majority of the ingredients may be prepped ahead, pear is prone to browning and is best sliced just before serving
- pomegranate - check out our video on how to deseed a pomegranate, which makes it seriously SO EASY
- prep ahead - you may toast the hazelnuts, shake up the vinaigrette, cut the gouda and de-seed the pomegranate up to 4 days before serving. Do not add vinaigrette until right before you serve
- Hazelnuts can be swapped for almonds, walnuts, pecans, or pine nuts
- Swap Gouda for goat cheese, feta, or even blue cheese
- Spinach can be swapped for arugula or a salad mix
- Swap bartlett pear for bosc, anjou pear, or apple
- Swap pomegranate seeds for fresh raspberries, blueberries, or sliced strawberries
- The white wine vinaigrette dressing could be swapped for red wine vinaigrette or one of these 7 basic vinaigrette recipes
Unfortunately, this salad is not great for meal prep thanks to the pears. If you left off the pears, it *might* work layered in a mason jar keeping leafy greens away from the dressing, but we have not tested.
Yes, this is an extremely flexible recipe! See the variations section below for ideas.
Absolutely! Simply eliminate the gouda or swap for a vegan cheese alternative.
Serve it with
This spinach pear salad is a great side salad, and you can increase the portion size and add extra protein to make it a meal!
- Salmon - two of my faves are this balsamic salmon marinade or this herb crusted broiled salmon
- Chicken- these perfect crispy baked chicken thighs are great for a fancier dinner.
- Pork - this easy pork tenderloin or Instant Pot ribs
- Potatoes- try these fun herb & garlic potato stacks, or this low carb potato alternative: fluffy parmesan mashed cauliflower
- Roasted Veggies- these balsamic roasted brussels sprouts and this maple cinnamon roasted butternut squash would both be great.
This spinach pear salad does not keep well and we recommend eating it within an hour of adding the dressing. However, you could prep some of the ingredients for this salad up to 4 days before serving:
- Toast the hazelnuts
- Shake up the vinaigrette
- Cut the gouda and de-seed the pomegranate
- Do not add vinaigrette until right before you serve
- ⅓ cup hazelnuts coarsely chopped
- 5 oz baby spinach 140g
- 1 pear cubed *see note 1
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
- ½ cup Gouda cheese cubed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon dijon
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- Toast Hazelnuts - In a pan, toast hazelnuts over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden brown. This will take around 10 minutes.
- Combine vinaigrette -Shake together all vinaigrette ingredients.
- Assemble salad - Combine all salad ingredients and toss in the dressing. Serve immediately.
- Do not slice pear or toss salad in the vinaigrette until just before serving.
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