Pear Spinach Salad with Cranberry-Orange Vinaigrette

11.12.2016

Have you ever tried adding fresh cranberries to your salad dressing before? It adds such a bright flavor and it’s the perfect way to use up some of the extra cranberries you may have left over from your favorite cranberry orange bread or scones, or holiday cranberry sauce. I often just freeze my left over cranberries and add a few to smoothies but I wanted to try something new with them so I came up with this Cranberry-Orange Vinaigrette. At first I was just going to go with a cranberry (only) vinaigrette but I felt it just needed a little more to it and orange always goes with cranberry. That bit of orange zest just completes the dressing. I also think the honey and sugar are a must because fresh cranberries can be sooo tart, even though it is a rather small amount used here they still are quite bold so that little bit of added sugar and honey really tones them down.

Pear Spinach Salad with Cranberry Orange Vinaigrette | Cooking Classy

Cranberry Orange Vinaigrette | Cooking Classy

Of course you don’t have to make this exact salad, really this recipe is more about the dressing. Although it is a delicious salad if you want to try out the blend I liked to pair with this vinaigrette. This is a perfectly fresh, flavorful and festive salad with the perfect balance of tart and tangy with a bit of sweet and salty. It’s would be perfect to serve on Thanksgiving or Christmas with it’s beautiful natural colors, plus it’s always nice to have a few new things at the holiday dinner table. We all have our favorites that are on repeat every year but it’s always fun to see something new grace the table. This is a smaller size salad, which feeds about 4 people as a side so just keep that in mind if you are preparing it for the holidays and a bigger group. You can stretch it and just add more spinach though as well, I just like a lot of the mix-ins (if I make it seem like ice cream and refer to them as “mix-ins” it makes salad seem that much more exciting right :)).

Pear Spinach Salad with Cranberry Orange Vinaigrette | Cooking Classy

Another thing to keep in mind is that the pears are like apples, or even fresh basil. They brown rather quickly once sliced so just wait to cut them until you are just ready to serve the salad. And a word of advice (as most of you already know), be so gentle with the pears. Carefully place them in your grocery cart and when you get the the check out line, just take the pears after they’ve rung them up and set them at the top of cart, otherwise (I’ve had this happened probably 10+ times) they just get bagged and banged up against everything else and a few hours later your pears are brown and practically inedible. Just take bubble wrap. I’m kidding but do try to transport them carefully.

I hope all of you are having a wonderful fall season! I love fall but I’m really hating this 5:00 darkness. Which is why we are setting up our Christmas tree tonight. This salad and my Christmas tree make early dark nights that much better. Try it soon!

Pear Spinach Salad with Cranberry Orange Vinaigrette | Cooking Classy

Pear Spinach Salad with Cranberry Orange Vinaigrette

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Yield: About 4 servings

Ingredients

Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup (34g) fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp orange zest
  • 2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Salad

  • 5 oz baby spinach
  • 2 Bartlett pears (semi-firm but ripe), cored and sliced
  • 3/4 cup pomegranate arils (1/2 cup dried cranberries would also be good)
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese (optional)

Instructions

  1. For the dressing:
  2. Add all of the vinaigrette ingredients to a food processor (beginning with 1/2 tsp zest and adding more to taste as you go). Pulse until cranberries have been pureed into dressing. Transfer to a jar, cover and chill until ready to use.
  3. For the salad:
  4. Layer salad ingredients into a bowl. Drizzle desired amount of dressing over top (you'll likely have some left over) or top each individual serving with dressing. Serve immediately.
  5. Recipe source: Cooking Classy

Pear Spinach Salad with Cranberry Orange Vinaigrette | Cooking Classy

14 comments

  • Laura | Tutti Dolci: This is such a gorgeous salad for Thanksgiving and that cranberry-orange dressing sounds fab! November 12, 2016 at 10:26pm Reply

  • Lavues: Awesome recipe, love the idea of the dressing! November 13, 2016 at 12:24am Reply

  • Tori//Gringalicious.com: Yes please! Everything about this salad is as if it was made just for me. I adore everything you added! November 13, 2016 at 3:51am Reply

  • Sara @ Last Night’s Feast: That vinaigrette sounds perfect! November 13, 2016 at 3:38pm Reply

  • Paige: This salad looks so easy and tasty!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com November 14, 2016 at 11:04am Reply

  • Sabrina B.: Beautiful salad, nicely photographed too!,
    I’m stuck with a “go to” spinach salad that’s definitely been done before, so when I saw all of these flavors (orange juice/zest, dijon, cranberry in the vinaigrette with pear and pomegranate in the salad) I am inspired to make this spinach salad instead, so thank you for this! November 14, 2016 at 3:00pm Reply

  • Susan Levings: A bit too much zest. Next time I will only use the orange juice. Otherwise,quite tasty November 16, 2016 at 3:59am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I appreciate your feedback Susan! I reduced it to to begin with 1/2 tsp then add more to taste in the recipe. November 16, 2016 at 11:34am Reply

  • Stefanie: I made this salad for our very small Thanksgiving. It was a huge hit. The dressing is perfect and all the components go together so well. My 16 year old helped me by seeding the pomegranate with help of a youtube video. It was really a rave hit and we will make it again and again.
    I’m going to look at your other salad recipes now. A good salad is so hard to find. This one is PERFECT. Thank you. November 25, 2016 at 6:15am Reply

    • Jaclyn: So glad you loved it Stefanie! November 28, 2016 at 12:28pm Reply

  • Jessie: This salad is just as delicious as it is beautiful! The flavors just complement each other so well. My husband is usually not a fan of sweet salads, but he really enjoyed this. I’m looking forward to serving it for Christmas! Thanks! November 29, 2016 at 12:29pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Glad to hear it was enjoyed Jessie! December 7, 2016 at 1:02pm Reply

  • Megan: This looks delicious. I’m wondering if you could use thawed, frozen cranberries in the dressing? It’s what I have on hand. February 18, 2017 at 8:10am Reply

    • Jaclyn: That should be fine. I’d drain them after thawing before adding them in. February 19, 2017 at 12:31am Reply

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