Orchard Harvest Salad (Panera Copycat) – Chopped romaine lettuce tossed with sliced pears, dried cherries, pecans, gorgonzola cheese, diced chicken and homemade cherry balsamic vinaigrette. Copycat recipe of the seasonal Orchard Harvest salad from Panera Bread.
I don’t post about salads often because, well honestly, the focus of this blog is usually on the indulgent side of the food spectrum.
But I actually love salads. Especially chunky salads full of various flavors and textures that keep you excited about eating it until the last bite.
So every once in a while, I like to surprise you guys with a killer salad recipe – not because it’s healthy, but because it’s incredible. The last one I shared with you guys was this Avocado & Charred Corn Salad which was perfect for summer. Now, I have one made for the fall.
Today, I share with you my Orchard Harvest Salad with Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette!
This salad is a copycat recipe from my favorite salad from Panera Bread. It used to be on their seasonal menu in the fall, but they no longer offer it. Sad face.
When my cravings began to kick-in for this salad, I decided to try to recreate it – including the killer cherry balsamic vinaigrette.
And man…I think I got it exactly right!
So what’s exactly in this salad?? Let’s break down all the ingredients:
- Fresh sliced bartlett pear – so juicy and tender and perfectly in season this time of year. The pear is my favorite part of this salad. I really need to incorporate more pear into my recipes!
- Crumbled gorgonzola cheese – soft and bold cheese that pairs incredibly well with pears and cherries
- Dried cherries – the cherries help bring out the flavor in the vinaigrette. Plus, I love the chewiness of the dried cherries
- Pecan halves – the pecans add the perfect crunch to this salad and just a hint of saltiness
- Diced chicken – Since this is an entree salad, I wanted protein to help fill me up. I decided to use cooked rotisserie chicken for this recipe to save time but feel free to grill up a chicken breast instead
Another component of this salad is the cherry balsamic dressing. It’s suuuuuper easy to make but here are a couple tips to help you out, in case you have any issues:
- Oil and vinegar are tough to mix together. You can whisk them but I love to shake them together in a mason jar since (1) it’s so much easier to mix them and (2) I can end up using the jar for storage.
- If you want a smooth dressing, simply strain the dressing after mixing ingredients together and that will help eliminate the chunks of cherry from the preserves.
- You only use 1/4 cup of cherry preserves for the dressing so you’ll have a good amount left over. If you need ideas on how to use it, these Glazed Cherry Hand Pies are perfect! You can easily make a half-batch recipe with the leftover preserves.
This salad is gonna seriously rock your world. And this is coming from a girl who has high standards for salads, too. Maybe I’ll hit you guys with another recipe after the holidays…Any requests?? Let me know in the comments!
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Orchard Harvest Salad (Panera Copycat)
For the cherry balsamic vinaigrette:
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 clove garlic minced or pressed
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 cup cherry preserves
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- pinch salt and pepper
For the orchard harvest salad:
- 6 ounces romaine lettuce chopped
- 1/2 pear sliced (or 1/3 cup diced pears)
- 1/4 cup gorgonzola
- 1/4 cup pecans roasted and salted
- 1/4 cup dried cherries
- 1/2 chicken breast cooked and diced
- 2-3 tablespoons cherry balsamic vinaigrette
- I recommend starting this salad by making the dressing first. Place balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, and sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Whisk until sugar has dissolved. Then, continue to cook until vinegar has reduced by half, about 8 minutes.
- Add cherry preserves to vinegar mixture and cook for 1 more minute. Remove from heat and place into a medium bowl to help it cool down. While it's cooling down, prepare the salad by adding all the salad ingredients (except for the dressing, of course) in a large bowl.
- Add canola oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper to the cherry mixture and whisk vigorously until the oil and vinegar combine. I strained my dressing to remove the cherry chunks, but that's no necessary if you don't want to. Add a couple tablespoons to salad mixture and toss together. Give the salad a taste and add more dressing, if needed. Serve immediately.
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More recipes that you’ll love:
Avocado & Charred Corn Salad with Cilantro Ranch Dressing
Fresh Broccoli Salad with Crispy Bacon
Chicken & Couscous Stuffed Peppers with Goat Cheese
I used to love this salad at Panera and was also sad face when they switched it out for the Fuji Apple one, so I started making it at home. I could never find cherry balsamic so had to make due with berry and it wasn’t the same. Can’t wait to try yours! Also, I can’t remember if it was on the original or if it is just my twist, but I add apple chips/freeze dried apples, for added crunch and to continue the orchard theme. So good!
Has anyone else made this salad and loved it? I want to make it, but I am afraid I am going to buy all of the ingredients and not like it. I love this salad at Panera, so if it really is a copy cat it would be worth making!
As an avid lover of the version at Panera, I think it’s pretty darn close to the original!
This looks like the perfect autumn salad! Thanks for sharing!
This is one of my favorite fall salads! I will be saving this for later 🙂
Glad you like it!
Lauren @ Delicious Little Bites says
These are some of my favorite salad ingredients! I can’t wait to try this!
D at Be you and thrive says
Ooo! This has all the sweet and savory that I crave + protein!
Love it and it’s Fall theme! Thanks for sharing! xo~ D #beyouandthrive
Love the sweet and savory combo too!
Patricia @ Grab a Plate says
I adore the pears in this salad — great idea! And the dressing? Divine! Great recipe!
Me too! Thanks Patricia!
This salad is GORGEOUS and combines all of my favorite things! I can’t wait to try it!
This salad looks so delicious and healthy , this is my kind of salad . Thank you for sharing.
This salad is beautiful! Perfect for fall!
Thanks so much!
Logan Can says
I love this salad at Panera! I will have to try your copy cat recipe! Looks so yummy!
Sarah Althouse says
Not a big gorgonzola fan but other than that this looks amazing!! Going to try with goat cheese.
That’s a great substitute!
Brittany Poulson says
This salad looks so hearty and full of flavor! I just want to stick a fork in and take a big ole bite!
Right?! So glad you like it!
Jordan | Read. Eat. Repeat. says
This salad looks so pretty and delicious! Especially the homemade cherry vinegrette.
Aw thank you! Love that vinaigrette too!
This salad looks and sounds amazing, all the flavors I love! I have not had it at Panara, but now there is no need to. Thanks for the recipe.
Thanks so much!