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.
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!
Here are all the kitchen tools and serveware that I used in today’s recipe. For each item sold below, I make a small commission. I only recommend items that I own and love so you can trust that each recommendation is tried and true. Thank you for supporting CPA!
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.