Can we just talk about seasonal transitions for a hot sec? As in struggling to change your food moods from one season seamlessly to the next. Where your heart can’t decide if it’s craving fresh or cozy. Summer or Fall. Sometimes in the span of just one day I end up craving all of the above. Enter this Asian Pear Salad with Radishes + Creamy Cashew Dressing to save the day!
Some fresh from the farmers market + seasonally appropriate fall ingredients paired with well-loved, bright and crisp summer staples.
5 ingredients + 1 dressing + 15 min. That’s all that stands in between you and this healthy, satisfyingly crunchy salad.
Zero cooking. Just chopping and mixing (and thank goodness…EATING).
Crisp, lightly sweet Asian pears meet up with thinly sliced, peppery radishes in a sea of chopped red leaf lettuce. With a dreamy (accidentally vegan) creamy cashew dressing tossed in to bring it all together. And finished with a sprinkling of delicately crunchy sunflower seeds over the top. Making sure that every forkful is brimming full of taste and texture.
This salad was first dreamt up, like so many of the great ones are, in my mom’s home kitchen. A product of what-was-at-the-farmers-market + what-is-leftover-in-the-fridge. When I’m home, my mom will often start a salad and then ask me to help her finish it (while she makes all the other delicious things like grilled chicken + hot veggies + homemade almond milk). I usually do the dressing and have some creative leeway with topping choices (of her already stellar picks she chose from that week’s market).
And this salad is one of THOSE salads. Where what-you-got becomes what-you-want.
That dinner was the first time I got to test out the dressing on people other than my resident recipe-testing husband. Thank goodness it went over well enough for no plate to be left with any salad left behind. The creamy sweet-n-salty dressing was so darn delish mixed in with the mild heat of the radishes and mild sweetness of the pears.
My mom added her golden turmeric-marinated grilled chicken tenders up on top and it was HEAVEN on a plate. Hot chicken. Cold salad. One of my favorite combos in.tha.world.
If you want to make this salad into a complete meal – add your protein of choice on top. And just like that you’ve got yourself a balanced + all around healthful meal.
I love that this salad uses fresh from the farmer’s market // but just as easy to find at your grocery store ingredients.
You can usually find radishes year round, but breakfast radishes (the slightly longer variety you see here) are my favorite. They have a very subtle peppery taste to them, bringing some mild spice to an otherwise bland bed of greens.
Their shape and size (less round / bulbous than their other radish relatives) make them an ideal choice for slicing into salads. These bite-sized pieces allow for just the right amount of crunch + peppery bite. Those little rounds fit easily onto a fork, which is key (if like me) you don’t enjoy having to mouth-wrestle a salad just to fit a single bite in.
Why Asian pears and not regular pears?
I’m not always a huge fan of regular pears, I think the problem is that I am head-over-heels in love with the satisfying *crunch* of biting into a fresh apple. But I love that nuanced taste that you can only get from eating a pear. So this fruit is the best of both worlds.
Asian pears work great in salads because of their firm + crunchy texture and juicy + lightly sweet taste. So crisp, in fact, that they are sometimes called “apple pears”.
A few tips for using fresh fruit in a salad (particularly apples + pears). You can make the fruit taste extra refreshing if you chill it in the fridge beforehand.
A little squeeze of lemon juice on freshly cut fruit is also an awesome way to brighten up a salad. The lemon juice balances out the sweetness with a little burst of tart flavor. The lemon juice can also help the fruit stave off the browning process for a little bit longer. Granted, it’s not going to help you avoid the oxidation process entirely. If you cut the pear tonight and added a lemon squeeze, you would probably still wake up to some browned fruit the next day. But it will help keep your fruit looking pretty from the time you prep it in the kitchen to however long it takes you to get the portions to the table.
RELATED: Broccoli Carrot Crunch Salad
Why red leaf lettuce and not classic green?
This salad uses red leaf lettuce because it’s fairly easy to find no matter the season and I love the ombré color of the green fading into the red tipped lettuce. It has phenomenal texture, with really wavy + curly leaves that are still soft and easy to chew (unlike say, raw kale). You can use any red leaf lettuce variety or swap for any other mild, non-bitter, non-peppery green. Great alternatives would be butter lettuce, loose leaf lettuce (red or green), and even classic romaine.
If you’re not going to use the red leaf lettuce, then go for a soft, mellow salad green as your base and shy away from more overpowering ones like arugula or mustard greens. A strong green paired with spicy radish, might be a little on the bitter side.
I also went for the red leaf lettuce because it’s just nice to mix it up from the usual spinach or classic light green lettuce every now and then – ya know?
And I know I’ve said it a million times before (and I’ll probably say it a million more times) but more colors = more nutrients. One of the easiest ways to make sure you’re getting a variety of nutrients into your diet is to incorporate LOTS of different colors in your meals.
Plus colorful foods are pretty easy on the eyes. It’s way more enticing to look down and see a plethora of hues on your plate. It’s probably why you see an arbitrary cluster of greens perched on top of your meat or potatoes in a restaurant. That little bit of color just adds so much more visual excitement into the experience.
Tell me in the comments what farmers market / produce aisle finds you’re digging right now! I’d love to know what to keep an eye out for on my next visit!
Simple & healthy recipe for Asian Pear Salad with Radishes and a creamy cashew dressing! Gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian friendly.
- 1 large head of red leaf romaine lettuce*
- 1 Asian pear
- ½ lemon
- 4-5 breakfast radishes (or about one small bundle)
- ¼ c sunflower seeds**
- creamy cashew dressing
- PREP RAW INGREDIENTS: Finely chop + wash the lettuce, divide between two large bowls. Core and cube the Asian pear (skin on) + squeeze ½ of a lemon over the top, toss the pear in the juice and divide fruit between the two salads. Remove the greens + ends from the breakfast radishes. Then slice into thin rounds, scatter over top of each salad.
- GARNISH + ADD DRESSING: Sprinkle sunflower seeds over top to add crunch + drizzle desired amount of creamy cashew dressing over each. Eat immediately.
*or about 6-8 cups pre-chopped and pre-washed lettuce
**I like to use these Sprouted Sunflower Seeds with Celtic Sea Salt, but if you prefer to use toasted salted sunflower seeds those would be delicious here too
- Serving Size: 1 large salad