Chopped salad recipe with pear vinaigrette is perfect for a side dish at Christmas dinner. It incorporates pears two ways: one pureed into the sweet tangy vinaigrette and the other pear chopped into the salad.
Chopped Salad Recipe:
When we plan a meal for entertaining, a chopped salad is always the main focus for my husband. The man grew up on giant fresh salads in California, and he appreciates a great salad more than most. As a kid, he could see green rolling hills planted with salad mix greens and Romaine lettuce from his bedroom window.
While his favorite is a Taco Salad recipe that I included into my second cookbook, Comfort and Joy: Cooking for Two, this one is becoming his second favorite. Along with my Pear Salad with Blue Cheese and Hazelnuts, too!
A chopped salad recipe typically has all of the ingredients, well, chopped and mixed together! You probably already knew that. But, we've discovered the perfect formula for a chopped salad. Read on, and we'll share everything.
The perfect formula for a great chopped salad:
For him, a great salad has crisp greens, one salty element, a crunch factor, and one sweet element.
In the case of this chopped salad recipe, we're using mixed greens that include super crunchy radicchio for the crispiness. Radicchio has a slightly bitter flavor that I love, and a juicy crisp texture that goes perfectly with soft ripe pears.
The salty element for this bowl of greens is a smoked cheddar cheese that is crumbled into bite-size pieces. The smoked cheddar that I buy has a quick Bourbon soak during the aging process, but any smoked or aged cheddar is very welcome here.
The crunch factor here is represented by pomegranate seeds. They're sweet, crunchy, and so festive in a holiday salad!
Also bringing the crunch factor is thinly sliced cucumber. If you really want to impress, use tiny pie crust cutters to make stars of cucumber for the serving bowl. I would never do this on a random Tuesday night for dinner with my family, but when I bring this salad to a holiday dinner, I don't mind taking the time to make cucumber stars. The key is to use very small cutters (like these!) intended for making holes in the top crust of a pie.
The sweet element in the bowl is pears! If you've never had a perfectly ripe pear, they have a thin skin that yields to a soft, sweet and honey-flavored flesh. But even if you're not a pear fan, this salad will convert you!
These pears are actually so beautiful that I prefer to thinly slice them for this salad rather than chop them for a true chopped salad.
Finally, an optional sweet element for this salad is candied pecans or walnuts. We omit them for family celebrations due to nut allergies, but I pile them high when it's just us at home. My toddler loves candied pecans almost as much as me!
Making fresh pear vinaigrette in the blender:
The pears are so good in this salad, that it's not enough to just use one in the bowl. We're also using an entire pear in the vinaigrette.
The best salad dressings have a balance of sweet, tanginess and salt, and a whole Royal Riviera pear brings sweetness and helps to thicken an emulsify the dressing, too. Plus, it all comes together in the blender so quickly--don't buy bottled dressing when you can make this in 4 minutes!
I hope you enjoy this festive Christmas chopped salad with pear vinaigrette. Serve it as part of a holiday meal or on a weeknight with thinly sliced chicken or salmon on top.
We love it on our Thanksgiving for two dinner menu, too!
For the pear vinaigrette:
- 1 Royal Riviera Pear (from Harry and David)
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar*
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the salad:
- 6 cups of mixed baby greens with radicchio
- 1 Royal Riviera Pear (from Harry and David), sliced or chopped
- ⅓ cup pomegranate arils
- 4 ounces crumbled smoked cheddar pieces
- ½ of a small cucumber, sliced**
- candied pecans, optional
- First, make the pear vinaigrette: core the pear and remove the seeds and stem. Place the rest of the pear (skin and all) in the bottom of a high-speed blender. Add the olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper. Blend everything together until it's creamy, emulsified and resembles salad dressing. Set aside. It can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- Next, combine the salad greens in a serving bowl with the pomegranate seeds, cucumber slices, cheese chunks, sliced pear and candied nuts (if using). Toss well to combine.
- Pour about one-quarter of the pear vinaigrette on top of the salad, and toss to combine. Add more dressing if you think it needs it.
* You can use apple cider vinegar if you can't find champagne vinegar.
**If desired, you can use tiny pie crust cutters in small shapes to add festive flair to the salad. In the photos, I used a star cutter, linked below.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 334Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 19mgSodium: 506mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 11gSugar: 12gProtein: 11g