This simple pear and gorgonzola salad tastes anything but! Crisp pears, toasted nuts, and crumbled Gorgonzola shine over lettuce drizzled with a homemade spiced vinaigrette.
I've already declared one salad on the blog a "Thanksgiving salad" (courtesy of the pomegranate vinaigrette), but here comes another.
This pear and Gorgonzola salad hits all the marks for a well-rounded salad. From deliciously pungent Gorgonzola and crisp pears to toasted nuts and a punchy-yet-sweet vinaigrette, this recipe makes a leveled-up holiday side dish but can also hold its own as a main course.
And a note to the blue cheese-wary among us: you may be surprised by Gorgonzola. I personally am not wild about generic blue cheese, but fell in love with Gorgonzola in a BIG way with Gorgonzola gnocchi. It's plenty flavorful but...less harsh, in a way? It has its own flavor going on that complements the other elements of this salad beautifully.
Reasons to Love This Recipe
- It tastes restaurant-quality with little effort. Homemade salads usually lack the pizzazz of restaurant salads, but the intentional mix of ingredients here tastes fancy without much work required.
- It's a perfect salad for fall or Thanksgiving. The cozy, warm flavor of the spiced vinaigrette pairs beautifully with seasonal pears for an excellent holiday salad.
- It's easy to customize. Add grilled chicken or leftover roasted turkey to level this pear and Gorgonzola salad up to a tasty main dish.
- The dressing! I'm not one to gloss over the work involved in making homemade salad dressing. Sometimes it's just a bridge too far after prepping a whole meal, you know? This spiced vinaigrette is SO delicious it's become my own personal "house" dressing. And the best part: there's barely any prep involved - just measure and whisk.
- Lettuce: Look for a medley of greens or baby lettuces, such as baby romaine or butter lettuces, as they feature a good blend of crispness and softness.
- Gorgonzola: I recommend buying a variety aged around 90 days for its bold-but-not-too-bold flavor. This may not be labeled outright on the packaging, but this timing can be described as a young Piccante, not a younger and creamy Dolce.
- Pears: Choose fairly ripe pears that still have firmness. Any commonly-found supermarket variety, like Anjou, Bartlett, and Bosc, works.
- Nuts: Pecans or walnuts are good options. I like to use a mix of the two.
- Vinegar: White balsamic vinegar is one of my favorite choices for vinaigrettes as it has a hint of sweetness and a bright flavor that doesn't overwhelm a dish, like standard balsamic vinegar might. If that's not available, you can use white wine vinegar, rice vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.
- Maple Syrup: Sweetness to balance out vinegar's tang.
- Cinnamon: This may look out of place in a vinaigrette, but I cannot get enough of the cozy flavor this adds that ties all of the salad components together. This is my secret ingredient!
- Toast the nuts. Instructions for both oven-toasting and pan-toasting are below in the recipe card. While both methods require your attention so the nuts don't burn, I find the oven to produce a more even toast that isn't quite so time-sensitive.
- Prepare the dressing. Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients but the olive oil together in a jar, glass measuring cup, or salad shaker. Then slowly whisk in the olive oil to emulsify the dressing until creamy. You can also shake everything up if your jar is lidded.
- Assemble the salad. Wash the lettuce, slice the pears, and crumble the Gorgonzola. Arrange all of the salad components on a large serving platter or individual plates. Dress the salads with the vinaigrette, whisking/shaking it to re-emulsify just prior to drizzling.
- Dried Fruit: This would be a nice touch if you want to bump up the sweetness. Regular raisins, golden raisins, dried cranberries, blueberries, or cherries all would taste great.
- Protein: Grilled chicken or roasted chickpeas would boost the protein to turn this salad into a main course. And if you have leftover roasted turkey from Thanksgiving? This salad would be a perfect application for it.
- Vinaigrette: While it requires a bit more work, pomegranate vinaigrette would be another deliciously fruity option. It also features a cinnamon note that makes this pear Gorgonzola salad something special.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can toast the nuts up to several days ahead of time. The vinaigrette is fine to mix up a day or two in advance, though the oil will solidify once chilled in the refrigerator. If this happens let it sit out of the fridge for 20-30 minutes, whisking or shaking well to re-emulsify everything once the oil liquefies again. I do not recommend slicing the pears, assembling the salads, or dressing them ahead of time in order to retain all of the right textures - crunchy nuts, crisp lettuce, unblemished pear slices, etc.
If possible don't add the dressing to any portions of this salad that might be leftover as it will cause the greens to wilt if left to sit. Even so, you can refrigerate leftover salad in an air-tight container to enjoy the next day. It's fine to eat but it just won't be as crunchy and fresh as the day before.
More Fall Entertaining Recipes
If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, I’d love for you to leave a star rating in the recipe card and/or a comment review below!
Pear and Gorgonzola Salad
Pear Gorgonzola Salad
- ¾ cup pecan or walnut halves (or a mix of the two)
- 10-12 ounces baby lettuce or mixed greens (roughly 4 cups)
- 2 ripe pears thinly sliced
- 3 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola
- 2 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Pinch of ground cinnamon more to taste
- Pinch of salt more to taste
- Pinch of ground black pepper more to taste
- 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Toast the Nuts
- Heat the oven to 350°F. Arrange pecans and/or walnuts in a single layer on a rimmed, ungreased sheet pan and toast on the middle rack of the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until fragrant and the nuts have turned a deeper golden brown coloring. Immediately remove to a plate or bowl once toasted and set aside.
Prepare the Dressing
- Add all ingredients except for the olive oil to a jar and whisk very well until combined. While whisking, slowly pour in the olive oil until creamy and emulsified. Add more cinnamon, salt, or pepper to taste.
Assemble the Salads
- Arrange lettuce on a large serving platter or individual plates. Thinly slice the pears and crumble the Gorgonzola.
- Evenly place sliced pears, Gorgonzola, and toasted nuts on top of the salads. Whisk or shake the dressing to re-emulsify it, then drizzle over the salad just before serving.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer