Spinach Pear Salad with Goat Cheese and Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette

March 29, 2017

Say goodbye to boring salads with this fresh and flavorful Spinach Pear Salad with Goat Cheese! 

Spinach Pear Salad with Goat Cheese and Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette | There's nothing boring about this flavor-packed salad! A bed of baby spinach is topped with crisp pears, juicy tomatoes, crunchy red onions and pecans, and creamy goat cheese, and tossed in a bright and aromatic lemon thyme vinaigrette. Get the gluten-free, vegetarian recipe @jlevinsonrd.

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Iceberg lettuce, mealy tomatoes, and a couple pieces of cucumber all topped with a thick and creamy dressing. Does that salad sound enticing to you?

Do you know the number one complaint I hear from people about why they don’t eat salad? “It’s boring!” And if you envision salad the way I’ve just described above, then you might be right.

Sure, day after day it can be mundane to sit down to a plate of lettuce with the same toppings, especially if they’re out of season vegetables that don’t spark your taste buds. But as I’ve shown you in the past, salad doesn’t have to be a mediocre appetizer or dieter’s main dish.

Say Goodbye to Boring Salads

Take for example my Strawberry Arugula Salad with Fennel, Toasted Almonds, and Strawberry Champagne Vinaigrette or this Salmon Waldorf Salad with Citrus Yogurt Vinaigrette. These salads are anything but boring! They’re full of a flavor and texture, and they are well balanced in both regards. There’s crunch and creaminess, there’s sweet and sour, and best of all there’s freshness. And today’s Spinach Pear Salad with Goat Cheese is no different!

People are often surprised that my girls eat salad, but this is the reason why. When you make a flavor-packed recipe that has something for everyone, and looks pretty too, you’re more likely to get everyone at the table to taste it – even if it’s just a bite or two.

And sometimes that’s all I get from my girls – a taste of the salad before they say “no, thank you” and move on to the main course. Other times, they eat it all up and ask for seconds (especially when they’re ravenous and the main course isn’t ready yet! Great trick to get the kids to eat salad, huh?!).

Ingredients & Preparation

As with all salad recipes, this spinach pear salad with goat cheese can be modified as you see fit. You can absolutely swap in different greens, eliminate the cheese and/or nuts if there are allergies or intolerances, and make any other changes based on taste preferences. That said, the flavor combination I have here works really well, so if you’ve never tried it, I hope you will!

Spinach Pear Salad with Goat Cheese and Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette | There's nothing boring about this flavor-packed salad! A bed of baby spinach is topped with crisp pears, juicy tomatoes, crunchy red onions and pecans, and creamy goat cheese, and tossed in a bright and aromatic lemon thyme vinaigrette. Get the gluten-free, vegetarian recipe @jlevinsonrd.

Baby spinach serves as the base of the salad and is topped with thinly sliced crisp pears, juicy grape tomatoes, crunchy red onions and pecans, and creamy crumbled goat cheese. As mentioned before, the variety of textures is one of the highlights of a salad and this recipe certainly has that part covered.

The lemon thyme dressing is bright and aromatic, but not too overpowering, allowing the flavors of the fresh produce to shine through. I love adding herbs to dressings and thyme goes exceptionally well with goat cheese and pears. If you don’t have fresh thyme, don’t hesitate to use the dried herb, just be sure to reduce the amount.

We’re almost near the end of pear season, but I’m still finding sweet and juicy Bartlett pears and subtly sweet and crisper D’Anjou pears at Trader Joe’s and some of the other local supermarkets.

Asian pears, which is what you see in the pictures here, are available pretty much all year long, although you may only be able to find them in specialty markets. If you’re not familiar with them, Asian pears look more like an apple than a classic pear, and are firm and crisp, which is why they hold up so well in salads. If pears aren’t your thing or you can’t find any good ones, a crisp apple would also work really well in this salad.

As with most of my appetizer and side salads, this spinach pear salad with goat cheese comes together in 10 minutes and requires minimal prep. I like to toast the pecans to bring out their flavor, but you can easily skip that step if you don’t have the extra minute or two to spare.

This recipe is naturally gluten-free and vegetarian, and if you’re vegan, you can leave out the cheese and swap maple syrup for honey in the dressing. One last note: most kids don’t like the bite of raw red onions, so you can easily leave that out or save it only for the adult plates.

Spinach Pear Salad with Goat Cheese and Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette | There's nothing boring about this flavor-packed salad! A bed of baby spinach is topped with crisp pears, juicy tomatoes, crunchy red onions and pecans, and creamy goat cheese, and tossed in a bright and aromatic lemon thyme vinaigrette. Get the gluten-free, vegetarian recipe @jlevinsonrd.

Spinach Pear Salad with Goat Cheese and Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette | There's nothing boring about this flavor-packed salad! A bed of baby spinach is topped with crisp pears, juicy tomatoes, crunchy red onions and pecans, and creamy goat cheese, and tossed in a bright and aromatic lemon thyme vinaigrette. Get the gluten-free, vegetarian recipe @jlevinsonrd.
5 from 3 votes
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Spinach Pear Salad with Goat Cheese and Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette

There's nothing boring about this flavor-packed salad! A bed of baby spinach is topped with crisp pears, juicy tomatoes, crunchy red onions and pecans, and creamy goat cheese, and tossed in a bright and aromatic lemon thyme vinaigrette.
Course Appetizer, Salad
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegetarian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4
Author Jessica

Ingredients

For the Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt (or more to taste)
  • Freshly ground pepper , to taste

For the Salad:

  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 large Asian pear, halved, cored, and thinly sliced (or other crisp pear like D'Anjou)
  • 1/2 cup sliced red onions
  • 1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup raw, unsalted pecans, toasted if desired (optional)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

Instructions

  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and set aside.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the spinach, pears, onions, tomatoes, and pecans, if using. Toss with dressing and divide evenly among 4 salad plates. Top with goat cheese and serve.

Recipe Notes

If vegan, eliminate cheese and swap maple syrup for honey in dressing.

Spinach Pear Salad with Goat Cheese and Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette | There's nothing boring about this flavor-packed salad! A bed of baby spinach is topped with crisp pears, juicy tomatoes, crunchy red onions and pecans, and creamy goat cheese, and tossed in a bright and aromatic lemon thyme vinaigrette. Get the gluten-free, vegetarian recipe @jlevinsonrd.

Do you find salad boring?

How do you keep your salad recipes interesting?

Share with me in the comments section below!
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  1. I love everything about this salad! Again who says salads are boring? I use to love goat cheese, well still do it just doesn’t love me, but might have to deal with a little discomfort for this one.

    1. Thanks so much Sarah! Haha..When I think of the salads I make, I don’t understand someone’s complaint that salads are boring. But when I think of diner or airport salads then maybe I can see it! And that’s too bad about goat cheese 🙁 Don’t suffer too much for this salad – it will be delish even without the cheese 😉

  2. Salad is never boring to me! My problem is that I feel like restaurants make them 1 million times better than I do! LOL! I love how light and refreshing this one is!

    1. I’m so glad you agree that salad isn’t boring! That’s so interesting – I find some restaurants make awesome salads, but often I’m disappointed by the ratio of greens to toppings, lol!

    1. Thanks so much Chrissa! I love making homemade dressings with different herbs – they are so yummy! Can’t wait for you to try it!

  3. I love this! And I am a sucker for salad! I’ve been twisting it up by adding Enlightened crisps on top for added crunch– and goat cheese crumbles of course!

    1. Thanks so much Lauren! Wish we had some warm weather here in NY, but I still try to eat salads as much as possible for lunch even when it’s cold. Enjoy!

  4. This salad is anything but boring. It looks and sounds so delicious. I can’t wait to try it. Isn’t the thyme like the best salad spice ever? 😀

  5. Wow, this looks so light and fresh!! I’m still going strong on salads despite it getting cold out..but I think I’ll be moving into all the soups soon.

  6. This salad looks just lovely. I didn’t try pears and spinach together until last year, and they are so delicious together!

  7. This salad is calling my name! It looks so good! I love everything you have in it! The textures are amazing too!

  8. This salad looks anything but boring!! I have some fresh thyme in my garden that is going straight to this dressing recipe!