This roasted beet and pear Thanksgiving salad is sprinkled with feta, cranberries, crushed walnuts and thinly sliced shallots. It’s also drizzled with a sensational sesame apple cider vinaigrette! A perfectly seasonal and colorful salad recipe for Thanksgiving!
The beets take just a half-hour to roast, while you prepare the other ingredients, making this a nice and simple vegetarian side dish for your holiday gathering.
The holidays are all about color for me! I want bright flowers in my vases (or pumpkins), bright table settings and bright vegetables. I decided to use 2 different kinds of beets in this recipe because it just makes the salad look so pretty. I was also incredibly pleased to find these red and white striped beets at my farmer’s market! I’ve never seen them before!
The apple cider vinaigrette is also bright, in a flavor sense. Apple cider vinegar with sesame, honey-dijon, a little soy sauce and a little honey to sweeten makes this salad positively shine! It’s always extra special to mix your own salad dressing that’s perfectly tailored to the veggies.
Not to mention, store-bought salad dressings are often loaded with preservatives and artificial flavors and sugars, so it’s nice to ensure your salad is as chemical-free as can be.
Why This Recipe is Special
The color! – My pictures don’t do it justice. It’s truly one of the prettiest salads you could serve for Thanksgiving.
It’s full of delightful Fall flavor – Earthy beets, sweet pears, apple cider, walnuts and cranberry… all the Autumn hits that pair together so well.
It’s easy to make ahead – I like to prep everything the night before. I slice and bake the beets, slice the pears and prevent them from browning in lemon juice, slice the shallots and make the dressing. When it’s showtime, I just pop all the goodies on top of arugula and serve. No fussing about in the kitchen when guests have arrived.
beets – You can use any variety of beet for this recipe. I was lucky to find red and white striped beets, but if you can only find red they’ll be just as pretty. If you really want to find beets of different colors, see if you have a local farmer’s market. They’ll surely have different varieties in the Fall.
shallot – I like shallot for salads because it’s not as strong as onion, but if you have trouble finding shallots, feel free to use thinly sliced red onion.
anjou pear – Be sure to use a pear that’s nice and firm, otherwise it won’t cut nicely and will become mushy quickly.
arugula – You can actually use any salad leafy green for this recipe. I like arugula, but feel free to swap with your favorite.
apple cider vinegar – Apple cider vinegar is perfect for the dressing, but you can also use rice vinegar for a more mild flavor, or white balsamic vinegar too.
How to Make This Salad – Step by Step
1. Pre-heat oven to 400 F. (200 C.) Peel 16 oz. of beets (about 2 small-medium bunches).
2. Slice bigger ones in quarters and smaller ones in half. If you have large beets, aim for a size of a large strawberry, halved.
3. Toss sliced beets in a bowl with 2 tbsp. olive oil. Don’t season with salt or pepper.
4. Lay beets onto a foil-lined baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. Once done, cool beets in a refrigerated container for 20-30 minutes.
5. Once beets are cool, slice ½ small shallot thinly and separate the rings.
6. Slice sides off of 1 firm Anjou pear, then thinly slice from top to bottom.
7. Mix vinaigrette. Add 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tbsp. sesame oil, 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. honey dijon mustard and ½ tsp. honey to a jar and mix.
8. Assemble the salad. Add 5 oz. arugula (a standard package) to a bowl, then add 2 oz. crushed walnuts, 2 oz. dried cranberries, sliced shallots, sliced pears, roasted beets and a sprinkle of crumbled feta. Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve!
Any beet will do! Red beets, yellow beets, white beets, striped beets, big ones, small ones! This recipe isn’t specific to any one kind. However, if you get red beets, be aware that they will stain your pears, so if you want to keep them bright, just go for golden, white, red striped or lighter red varieties.
Yes. Although I would leave the dressing and sprinkle of feta till just before serving. Otherwise, the salad and cheese will get soggy.
A Few Tips
1. To ensure the pears look extra pretty:
Slice them nice and thin so you can fan them out. It looks so pretty! Also, to prevent browning, dip them in a little lemon juice. That will keep them nice and bright!
2. It’s all about the slicing!
The way the fruits and vegetables are cut make a big difference in the loveliness of the salad. You don’t want beets that are too big or pears that are too thick. Since all beets vary in size, I would suggest cutting your beets into pieces that are the size of large, halved strawberries.
And for the pears, slice them nice and thin. I sliced mine as whole top to bottom slices to be decorative, but you can also slice them in half.
Help Yourself to More Thanksgiving Inspiration!
- 10 Elegant Thanksgiving Side Dishes
- French Green Beans with Shallots and Sesame Ginger Sauce
- Baked Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic and Herbed Goat Cheese
- Crispy Roasted Cauliflower with Cheddar & Parmesan
- Pumpkin Spice Snickerdoodles with French Vanilla Chai Glaze
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Thanksgiving Salad with Beet, Pear and Apple Cider Vinaigrette
- apple peeler
- sharp knife and cutting board
- mixing bowl
- foil-lined baking sheet
- container for dressing
For the Salad
- 16 oz. beets – about 2 bunches small beets, any variety
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- ½ shallot – small
- 1 anjou pear – firm
- 5 oz. arugula
- 2 oz. walnuts – crushed
- 2 oz. dried cranberries
- 2 oz. feta – crumbled
For the Apple Cider Vinaigrette
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. sesame oil
- 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. honey dijon mustard
- ½ tsp. honey
- Pre-heat oven to 400 F. (200 C.) Peel 16 oz. (453 mL) of beets. Slice bigger ones in quarters and smaller ones in half. If you have large beets, aim for a size of a large strawberry, halved.
- Toss sliced beets in a bowl with 2 tbsp. olive oil. Lay beets onto a foil-lined baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. Once done, cool beets in a refrigerated container for 20-30 minutes.
- Once beets are cool, slice ½ small shallot thinly, and separate the rings. Slice sides off of 1 firm Anjou pear, then thinly slice from top to bottom.
- Mix vinaigrette. Add 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tbsp. sesame oil, 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. honey dijon mustard and ½ tsp. honey to a jar and mix.
- Assemble the salad. Add 5 oz. (141 mL) arugula (a standard package) to a bowl, then add 2 oz. (56 mL) crushed walnuts, 2 oz. (56 mL) dried cranberries, sliced shallots, sliced pears, roasted beets and a sprinkle of crumbled feta. Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve!