This pear salad recipe is just AWESOME!! It’s full of delicious textures from a layer of peppery arugula, sweet pears, crunchy pecans, and chewy grilled cheese, all tossed in a stunning port wine reduction dressing. This pretty salad will take you no time to make, and its beautiful colors and taste will sure impress your família and amigos over the holidays or any day of the week!
Want more holiday inspiration? Check out Brazilian Christmas Food for festive drinks, sides, mains and more!
A versatile & festive pear salad recipe
I love how versatile this salad is. The Port wine reduction vinaigrette and the grilled cheese make it a special and elegant salad to have as a holiday starter and side option.
This is also a great make ahead recipe! I love that I can grill all the cheese, and make the reduction vinaigrette a day or two in advance. This really helps me maximize my time preparing for a special event or just the week ahead.
Plus, the fact that you can make some stuff ahead makes it a wonderful side dish salad to bring to cookouts, potlucks, and holiday parties!
I hope you love this salad as much as I do!
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Pear Salad Ingredients
This pear salad recipe is super delicious as it is, but here are some substitution recommendations in case you need to make a change:
For the dressing
- Port wine
- apple cider vinegar
- extra virgin olive oil
- whole grain old fashioned mustard – this is definitely my preference, but, you can sub for any other good mustard of your choice that you may already have at home, like dijon style or brown.
- fresh rosemary – dried rosemary is OK. Just make sure you add the dried rosemary to the reduced port wine, immediately as you turn off the heat. This way the heat from the hot reduction will release the oils from the rosemary and you’ll get more flavor out of it. You don’t want to boil them as you reduce the wine because otherwise the rosemary flavor will take over.
For the salad
- red pears – any pears are OK, really. I just like to use the red ones because they add beautiful color to the salad. You can even use apples if you want!
- baby arugula – arugula is my fave, but spinach is also great!
- chopped pecans – or any other chopped nut you prefer.
- cheese for grilling
Best Cheese for grilling
- Brazilian queijo coalho – of course queijo coalho is my fave, but it can be hard to find, unless you have a Brazilian market near you, or you can order it on Amazon.
- Halloumi – my favorite substitution to queijo coalho in terms of flavor and texture. I also love that I’ve never had an issue finding it in regular grocery stores in California.
- Queijo Panela / Panela Cheese – This is an inexpensive option, also normally widely available here in southern California. It’s not quite the same as queijo coalho, but its a very good alternative.
Cooking with Port Wine
Port wine is a fortified sweet Portuguese wine, that’s typically served as a dessert wine or as a digestive. Being Brazilian, Port wine was a very common thing in my house, and my mom usually used it to make special steak sauces and desserts.
Porto is also one of the first wines I drank because it can be so sweet and dangerously easy to drink. If you haven’t had a good Port wine, I really recommend you try it.
For this recipe we don’t need a great drinking Port wine. Real Port wine is imported from Portugal, and while it’s not unreasonably expensive, it’s also not a cheapsy wine.
If you’re on a budget, you can totally just use cooking Port wine that you can find at grocery stores, usually where vinegars are. Generally, you can get it at whole foods for under 10 bucks.
How to make port wine reduction dressing
To make the port wine dressing, add the port wine to a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
Then, let it simmer uncovered until the wine is reduced to about 1/4 cup and is syrupy (and coats the back of a spoon). Like this!
Let the wine reduction cool, and meanwhile grill the cheese.
To grill the queijo coalho, remove and discard the skewer that comes with it. Then, cut the cheese into little cubes. Like this!
NOTE: You can use these same instructions to grill Halloumi or Panela cheese.
Then, place them on a non-stick skillet over medium to high heat and grill all sides.
Until they are nicely golden.
After the cheese is grilled, mix the dressing and assemble your salad with arugula, the sliced pears, the chunks of grilled cheese, and the pecans on top. Add the port wine dressing, and serve!
MORE festive SALAD RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
More Festive Sides to Try:
- Brazilian Christmas Rice
- Walnut Rice
- Cachaça Cranberry Sauce
- Instant Pot Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Mashed Yuca
- Air Fryer Butternut Squash
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Grilled Cheese Pear Salad with Port Wine Dressing Recipe
- 1 cup of Port wine
- 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp whole grain old fashioned mustard
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- a sprig of rosemary
- salt and pepper
- 4-5 red pears washed, cored and cut into slices
- 2 12 oz packages of queijo coalho cubed
- 1-2 5 oz bag of baby arugula
- 1/4 cup of chopped pecans
- Add the Port wine to a sauce pan over medium to high heat and bring to a boil. Let it simmer uncovered until the wine is reduced to about 1/4 cup and is syrupy and coats the back of a spoon. Let it cool.
- Meanwhile, grill the cheese in a non-stick skillet over medium to high heat and grill all sides. Set aside.
- Add the wine reduction, the apple cider, the mustard, the olive oil, and the rosemary sprig to a mason jar or medium bowl. Shake the jar, or whisk until well blended, and season with salt and pepper.
- Put the greens in a large serving bowl, drizzle the dressing (to your taste) and toss to coat. Top with the pecans, the grilled cheese and the pears.
- Serve immediately