Pear Apple Avocado Spinach Salad with Candied Walnuts, Feta and Dried Cranberries is a delicious fall salad! A cinnamon maple balsamic vinaigrette ties all of the ingredients together in a beautiful display of fall flavors!
This easy green salad recipe features so many different flavors and textures that it generates a scintillating experience for the taste buds.
The combination of sweet apples and pears, creamy avocado, tangy feta cheese, zingy red onion, sweet and tart dried cranberries, and luxurious candied walnuts results in the loveliest fall salad that pairs so nicely with any main entree.
While I slice everything for an eye-catching presentation, I prefer the texture of chopped salads, where everything is chopped into small chunks, versus sliced.
For the best results, I do recommend chopping all of the ingredients (including the spinach or spring greens) to make the salad easy to shovel into the mouth.
If you haven’t tried candying nuts at home, don’t panic. The process is so simple and it only takes an extra 5 to 10 minutes of prep time, which is well worth it because the nuts are transformed into crunchy, buttery, sweet bites of joy.
You can whip this easy apple spinach salad up for a light lunch or dinner, serve it as a side salad for guests, or turn it into a main dish by adding your favorite animal protein.
Let’s discuss the simple ingredients for this healthy spinach salad recipe in detail.
Ingredients for Pear Apple Avocado Spinach Salad:
Pear, Apple, Avocado, Red Onion: The fresh produce goodies that add bursts of sweet, sour, tangy, creamy flavors and crisp textures to the salad.
Use your favorite kind of pear and favorite kind of apples.
I like bosc pears or bartlett pears and gala apples. For the best result, use sweet pears and sweet apples rather than underripe pears or tart apples. The natural sweetness really makes for a great salad!
Baby Spinach or Spring Greens: The main ingredient in this pear spinach salad! Pick up a large container of baby spinach or spring greens. You will need 10 ounces of your favorite greens.
Feta Cheese: Tangy feta cheese adds so much flavor to the salad recipe and provides a tangy counterbalance to the sweet flavors. Swap it out for gorgonzola cheese if you prefer.
Dried Cranberries: I love adding dried fruit to salads because it adds lovely sweet and sour flavor as well as some fun texture. You can easily use raisins or dried blueberries here.
Candied Walnuts: I make homemade candied walnuts, which add buttery, sweet nutty flavor and crunchy texture to the salad.
You can easily skip my steps for making homemade candied walnuts and use either raw walnuts, roasted walnuts, or any nut or seed you like.
The walnuts are only lightly sweet (which I prefer), so if you like sweeter candied nuts, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of brown sugar to the walnuts when toasting them on the stove top.
Balsamic Dressing Ingredients: Extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, ground cinnamon (just trust me), pure maple syrup, sea salt, black pepper, and dijon mustard.
Salad Dressing Options:
If you love making homemade salad dressings, you can follow the Cinnamon Maple Balsamic Dressing recipe I have included in the recipe card below, or make one of the following recipes.
- Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette (a classic balsamic vinaigrette recipe)
- Homemade Italian Dressing
- Paleo Caesar Salad Dressing
- Mayo-Free Green Goddess Dressing
- Creamy Raspberry Vinaigrette
Optional Additions and Recipe Adaptations:
- 4 slices of crispy cooked and chopped thick-cut bacon.
- Sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, crunchy pecans, pistachios, and pumpkin seeds are all great replacements for the walnuts. Any kind of nuts and most seeds work.
- Turn this salad into an entree salad for a full meal by adding rotisserie chicken (or baked chicken), steak, or salmon.
- If you aren’t into pears, use two apples. Similarly, if you aren’t a fan of apples, use two pears.
- Substitute goat cheese or blue cheese for the feta.
- Do a simple drizzle of fresh lemon juice and olive oil over the salad if you enjoy simple salad dressings.
- Toss in 1/2 cup to 1 cup of pomegranate arils if you have access to them.
- Swap apple cider vinegar for balsamic vinegar in the dressing.
Now that we’ve covered the fresh ingredients list for a spectacular pear salad, let’s make this refreshing salad recipe! All of the ingredients can be found at any grocery store.
How to Make Pear Apple Avocado Spinach Salad:
Begin by making the candied walnuts and the homemade balsamic vinaigrette.
If you don’t have a small blender, simply whisk everything well in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Transfer all of the ingredients for the candied walnuts to a small skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Stir nuts occasionally and continue cooking until they begin to appear sticky and caramelized, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Be sure to continuously monitor the walnuts without walking away because nuts burn easily in a split second. Immediately transfer the walnuts to a bowl and set them aside.
You can leave the walnut halves whole or you can chop them into smaller pieces. I recommend chopping them.
Chop the spinach (or spring greens), apple, pear (discarding the cores), avocado, and red onion into small sized pieces and transfer them to a large bowl.
You can either use a large mixing bowl or the large serving bowl you intend to serve the salad in. Add in the feta cheese, dried cranberries, and candied walnuts.
Drizzle your desired amount of dressing over the salad and toss well until everything is coated.
Serve salad alongside your main dish, and enjoy!
Salad is best when served within an hour or two of preparing it so for this reason, I don’t recommend making this recipe too far in advance.
You can prepare the dressing and walnuts in advance, but everything else should be chopped and combined just before serving.
Remember, you can always go with apple slices and pear slices for a prettier presentation if that’s your goal but I do love the chopped version more.
The next time you’re looking for a fun fall salad that celebrates fall produce, make this tasty pear apple avocado spinach salad! It’s a marvelous side dish no matter the time of year.
Perfect for easy weeknight meals, yet fancy enough to serve at holiday gatherings, this dreamy salad is refreshing and inviting.
I love adding rotisserie chicken or store-bought pre-cooked chicken for a complete meal.
If you’re looking for more fall and winter salad recipes, also try out these reader favorites.
More Healthy Salad Recipes:
- Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash
- Roasted Beet Arugula Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Roasted Sweet Potato Kale Salad with Avocado and Jammy Egg
- Apple Broccoli Salad with Walnuts
- The Best Caprese Salad
- Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
May all your salads be crunchy, creamy, tangy, sweet, and savory!
Pear Apple Avocado Spinach Salad
- 10 ounces baby spinach or spring green mix chopped
- 1 large apple sliced or chopped
- 1 large pear sliced or chopped
- 2 large avocados sliced or chopped
- ½ cup red onion thinly sliced or chopped
- 6 ounces feta cheese or gorgonzola cheese
- ⅔ cup dried cranberries
- Add the ingredients for the balsamic vinaigrette to a small blender such as a NutriBullet or Magic Bullet and blend until completely combined. If you don’t have a small blender, simply whisk everything well in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Transfer all of the ingredients for the candied walnuts to a small skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Stir nuts occasionally and continue cooking until they begin to appear sticky and caramelized, about 3 to 5 minutes. Be sure to continuously monitor the walnuts without walking away because nuts burn easily in a split second. Immediately transfer the walnuts to a bowl and set them aside. You can leave the walnut halves whole or you can chop them into smaller pieces. I recommend chopping them.
- Chop the spinach (or spring greens), apple, pear (discarding the cores), avocado, and red onion into small sized pieces and transfer them to a large bowl. You can either use a large mixing bowl or the large serving bowl you intend to serve the salad in. Add in the feta cheese, dried cranberries, and candied walnuts.
- Drizzle your desired amount of dressing over the salad and toss well until everything is coated.
- Serve salad alongside your main dish, and enjoy!
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