This Pear Gorgonzola Salad is made by tossing arugula and radicchio in a balsamic vinaigrette and topping with creamy Gorgonzola, pears, and glazed walnuts.
Why Make This Recipe
- Great way to use seasonal produce. I am constantly inspired just walking around my farmers’ market. Last weekend, I was taken with these gorgeous heads of what I assumed was radicchio. But after reading longtime Paris resident David Lebovitz’s post on this amazing-looking Bacon Radicchio Risotto, I realized they were actually the slightly less bitter red chicory (chicorée rouge de trévise). Either way, they were calling me, along with the perfectly ripe pears.
- Beautiful, but also delicious. The colors in this salad are just gorgeous, but the flavor pairing is too! The arugula and red chicory (or radicchio) have a slight bitterness that pairs (pears?) beautifully with the sweeter ingredients in this salad. Lightly glazing the walnuts and adding some buttery Gorgonzola and a balsamic vinaigrette takes this dish over the top.
I love the combination of these ingredients together, but there are so many different options that would also work.
- Arugula: You could replace this with almost any kind of salad green, including baby spinach, frisee, or baby kale.
- Pears: Replace with with apples or persimmons if you’re making this in the late fall or winter. During other times of the year, swap out the greens and fruit for whatever is available in your local market.
- Gorgonzola Cheese: While for me the Gorgonzola is the star of this salad, I would also happily eat any other blue, feta, or goat cheese.
- Walnuts: Feel free to try this glazing technique with pecans or almonds as well.
First, we’ll glaze the walnuts. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit/175 degrees Celsius. Toss 1 cup walnuts, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and ¼ teaspoon chile powder together on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Spread out into a single layer.
Bake for 8 minutes, stir gently with a spatula, and bake for another 3-5 minutes, until nuts are lightly toasted and caramelized. Remove and let cool on sheet pan, then break them up with your hands if the nuts stick together.
Meanwhile, prepare the vinaigrette by whisking together balsamic vinegar, chopped shallots, and maple syrup. Slowly whisk in olive oil to emulsify dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Now prepare your greens by rinsing and patting dry. Cut or tear the radicchio into bite-sized pieces.
Slice pears. To serve, combine arugula and radicchio and toss with 1 T. of the dressing. Add pears, gorgonzola, and walnuts and toss. Serve additional vinaigrette on the side.
This salad is best fully assembled not long before you want to serve. However, you can make the components in advance. Make the vinaigrette, glaze the walnuts, and rinse and dry the salad leaves. Because pears brown quickly after cutting, you'll have to wait to slice those until you're ready to serve. But with everything else done at that point, assembling the final salad will be easy!
Gorgonzola is an Italian blue cheese, made from cow’s milk and produced mainly in North Italy. Gorgonzola can be a variety of textures: soft and buttery or firm and salty. Its texture is mainly determined by its 3-4 month aging process, with older cheeses becoming more firm. Typically Gorgonzola is one of the milder blue cheeses in terms of pungency of flavor. For this salad, I chose a younger, creamier Gorgonzola, but any version would be lovely.
Gorgonzola is wonderful with pasta, gnocchi, and risotto, as it melts beautifully. It also makes a delicious pizza topping—in fact, gorgonzola with pears, arugula, walnuts, and a drizzle of honey make for a fantastic pizza. You can also serve Gorgonzola with honey and/or figs on a cheese plate. Or mix with marscapone for a salty/sweet spread. Finally, melt it into a sauce and serve with a perfectly prepared steak.
👩🍳 Expert Tips
The only tricky part of this recipe is making the glazed walnuts. You can use a little more or a little less maple syrup, depending on how much of a glaze you want. My recipe tends to lean toward more lightly glazed. And, you can adjust the spice as you like. If you think your oven runs hot, I'd recommend you check your nuts early so that you make sure they don't burn. Glazed nuts go quickly from perfectly toasted to burned.
This is one of the best pear gorgonzola salads I've had. It's perfect on the side of an everyday meal or a bowl of soup. But it’s also a great option for your holiday table. I don’t know about you, but all the creamy, starchy, heavy foods that often make up our Thanksgiving or Christmas buffet are even better with the counterpoint of a tangy and bright salad, especially one that is gluten-free. Not to mention that the colors of this salad are festive all by themselves! Make a big salad bowl for your table, dressing on the side, and watch this go as quickly as the mashed potatoes.
Other Delicious Salad Recipes
Salads on the brain now? Check out some of my other delicious salad recipes for more inspiration.
- Kale Salad with Cranberries
- Arugula Salad with Apples and Quinoa
- Fig Salad with Blue Cheese
- Green Bean Salad with Baked Goat Cheese
- Salade de Tomates
- Black Bean and Corn Salad
- Spinach Beet Salad with Goat Cheese
- Hearts of Palm Salad with Avocado
If you try this pear gorgonzola salad recipe, I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below—I read them all, and your feedback is invaluable to me. And please follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook or subscribe to my newsletter. I'd love to inspire you with more delicious, healthy, and seasonal recipes!
For the Salad
- 1 c. walnuts (3.2 oz/90 g)
- 1 T. maple syrup
- ¼ t. chile powder or cayenne pepper
- 3 c. arugula (2 oz/60 g)
- 1 small head radicchio or red chicory (7.8 oz/220 g)
- 4.25 oz/120 g Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
- 3 small pears (13 oz/375 g)
For the Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 1 T. chopped shallots
- 1.5 T. balsamic vinegar
- 1 t. maple syrup
- 4.5 T. extra-virgin olive oil
- kosher salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit/175 degrees Celsius.
- Toss walnuts, 1 T. maple syrup, and chile powder together on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Spread out into a single layer.
- Bake for 8 minutes, stir gently with a spatula, and bake for another 3-5 minutes, until nuts are lightly toasted and caramelized.
- Remove and let cool on sheet pan, then break them up with your hands if the nuts stick together.
- Meanwhile, prepare the vinaigrette by whisking together shallots, balsamic vinegar, and maple syrup.
- Slowly whisk in olive oil to emulsify dressing.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Prepare your greens by rinsing and patting dry. Cut or tear the radicchio into bite-sized piece.
- Slice pears.
- To serve, combine arugula and radicchio and toss with 1 T. of the dressing.
- Add pears, gorgonzola, and glazed walnuts and toss.
- Serve additional vinaigrette on the side.
Substitutions: This salad has lots of possible ingredient swaps. Use any kind of blue cheese or goat cheese instead of gorgonzola. Switch the pears with apples or persimmons, depending on the season. Use baby spinach or baby kale in place of the arugula. So many options!
Make-Ahead Instructions: This salad is best fully assembled not long before you want to serve. However, you can make the components in advance. Make the vinaigrette, glaze the walnuts, and rinse and dry the salad leaves. Because pears brown quickly after cutting, you'll have to wait to slice those until you're ready to serve. But with everything else done at that point, assembling the final salad will be easy!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 510Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 30gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 500mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 6gSugar: 17gProtein: 12g
Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.