Pears are such a wonderful fall fruit and this pear salad is a perfect way to highlight this wonderful fruit. Easy to make with candied walnuts and gorgonzola this salad makes for a refreshing and light meal or appetizer.
Normally when fall rolls around you immediately think about pumpkins. While pumpkins are perfect for fall I love a good pear as well. They are perfect for salads, crisps and many other dishes and desserts. What makes this recipe so great is that it takes just a few minutes to throw together. The only cooking time is what you need to make the walnuts. It is one of my favorite lunches for a quick and healthy meal.
In this recipe
Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to this salad. While there are a lot of ingredients in this recipe they condense into five parts to the salad.
Pears: you will want to use firm Bartlett pear or a bosc pear when slicing thinly.
Walnuts: These can be candied or not. Also they can be replaced with pecans as well.
Gorgonzola cheese: This is a form of blue cheese that has a more mild and subtle flavor. This cheese is less sharp than blue cheese making it a perfect pairing with the pears.
Making your own balsamic vinaigrette
I have always liked making my own salad dressings as opposed to buying them. The best thing about this dressing is that it only takes a few ingredients and a blender. I prefer a blender to just shaking because a blender is much better at emulsifying the salad dressing. Also it allows the garlic to be pureed with the rest of the ingredients so the dressing becomes silky smooth. Finally you can control the level of sweetness. Keep in mind that both the honey and mustard are emulsifiers so they will need to present in the dressing.
Candied nuts have never been so easy
There are some great recipes where you make a caramel to coat the pecans or walnuts. While those are great recipes I have found that they are just a little too time consuming for me. I have taken a little bit of a different approach. By combining the melted butter with brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla and then cooking it in the oven will toast the walnuts or pecans and create a caramel like sauce all at the same time. Once they are out of the oven the sugar will firm up and coat the nuts nicely.
Making the pear salad
One of the tricks I like to use when dressing a salad is to dress the lettuce or other greens in a separate bowl. Then in the bowl I am going to serve the salad in I will do several layers of lettuce, pear, walnuts, and then gorgonzola. This way I don’t have to toss it once it is in the bowl. Secondly it makes it easy to get all those delicious flavors evenly spread out in the salad. Be careful as to not over dress the salad and the dressing in this recipe will make more than enough for 2 salads.
Looking for other pear recipes?
Pear Salad with Walnuts and Gorgonzola
- Sheet pan
- Mixing Bowl
- 6 cups romaine lettuce torn
- 2 pears thinly sliced
- ½ cup gorgonzola crumbles
- 1 cup walnuts
- 4 tablespoons butter unsalted, melted
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ tablespoon vanilla
- ¾ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
Making the candied walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, 177°C, or gas mark 4.
- Spray the sheet pan with non-stick spray. Combine the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. In a bowl mix the butter mixture with the walnuts until evenly coated. Pour onto the greased sheet pan and bake for 5-7 minutes or until the walnuts become fragrant.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Making the dressing
- While the walnuts are cooling in a blender combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, salt and pepper. Blend on high until everything is combined and the garlic has been blended.
Assembling the salad
- In a mixing bowl toss the lettuce with about ¼-⅓ cup of the balsamic dressing and layer the lettuce then pears, walnuts, and gorgonzola. Add additional dressing to the lettuce if more is needed.