This Southern Pear Salad is a vintage recipe that combines canned pears, mayo, cheese, and cherries into a dish that’s as quirky as it is delicious.
You know we southerners are kinda known for slapping the word “salad” on a host of things that are clearly not salads. Things like ambrosia, pineapple walnut salad, and strawberry pretzel salad instantly come to mind. As I’ve said before, I think it makes us feel better about eating them.
Well, folks, of all the weird salads we lay claim to down here, this one right here is probably one of the quirkiest. Now, granted, there is lettuce involved here. So, I think the salad terminology is more appropriate in this case than some of the others. However, this random assemblage of ingredients is just plain weird.
This recipe tops lettuce with canned pear halves, mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, and a maraschino cherry.
But as strange as it sounds, nearly every true southerner I know instantly knew exactly what I was talking about when I said “pear salad.” It was a dish that was commonplace at potlucks, church dinners, and family gatherings. Lot’s of folks remember this being a “company” dish. You know, one of those fancy recipes we only served to guests.
And I’ll readily admit, I had never tried this dish until I started working on it for this post – despite seeing it everywhere when I was a child. Now, y’all know I love me some mayo, but something about the canned pears just turned me off.
But as part of my commitment to my craft, I always promise the recipes posted here are tested and tasted numerous times before they make it to the blog. So I tasted it. And honestly, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected it to be. The pear wasn’t as sweet as I thought it would be and the cheese and mayo honestly kinda worked. The cherry wasn’t exactly my favorite part, but I get its inclusion – at least for color and an attempt to “fancy” this dish up a bit.
What are the ingredients for pear salad?
Quite honestly, pear salad is a simple combination of lettuce, canned pears, mayonnaise, and cheddar cheese. Each little stack is garnished with a bright red maraschino cherry.
Can pear salad be made ahead of time?
This is one of those things that doesn’t benefit from some time in the fridge. In fact, as this dish sits, water is leached out of the pears and it sort of becomes a slippery mess with the mayo sliding off and the pears slipping around the lettuce.
So, I recommend this dish be made within a few hours of serving. But, it’s so easy to make, that shouldn’t be a problem. Serve it immediately after making or store in the fridge for up to 2 hours.
Can I use something other than pears?
According to some folks, they’ve used canned pineapple rings instead of the pears. In my mind, this makes sense because I remember my mom eating pineapple sandwiches with gooey white bread, mayo, and canned pineapple.
Can I use something other than mayo?
A quick chat with my pal Donya over at ASouthernSoul.com revealed that her family made the same dish but swapped the mayo for cottage cheese.
What kind of lettuce should I use?
I think iceberg is the most traditional choice, but I used some pretty bibb lettuce for these photos. Leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, romaine, or even endive should work as well.
Southern Pear Salad
- 1 (14 to 15-ounce) can pear halves, drained
- 5 lettuce leaves
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 5 maraschino cherries
- Arrange the lettuce leaves on a large serving platter or plate. Top each leaf with a pear half. Add a heaping tablespoon of mayo on top of each pear. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the mayo. Add a cherry to the top of each pear. Serve chilled.
If nutritional values are provided, they are an estimate and will vary depending on the brands used. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, I recommend grabbing your favorite brands and plugging those ingredients into an online nutritional calculator.