First discovered at Nordstrom’s department store, this Pear, Walnut and Gorgonzola Salad is now one of our favorites to make at home and a great use for the pears that are available in cooler months; the perfect winter salad!
I first posted this recipe for a Pear, Walnut and Gorgonzola Salad with Maple Dijon Dressing twelve years ago so it seems now would be perfect timing for an update. I was using a point and shoot camera on the verge of dying and the photos were beyond awful so was happy to change those out but more important, I wanted to introduce this salad to new readers, seriously it’s been a favorite for over 15 years!
I thought it appropriate when I made it again yesterday that I do a re-posting; not simply because I took new photos but a salad this good should be one that new readers enjoy too. I never tire of it!
I give all credit to Nordstrom’s Cafe. Once completely unknown to me, after my daughter starting working there in high school I would visit her at lunch time and knew that I had discovered an unheralded treasure. They had a chef on premises and we loved everything they served but I have to admit that once I tried their Pear, Walnut and Blue Cheese Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette I seldom strayed far from this favorite.
The salad is simple; pear, Gorgonzola cheese, and candied walnuts served over mixed greens. I don’t recall if the red onions were their idea or mine but no matter, they are a perfect complement both in taste and color.
The dressing served with the salad at the cafe, while good, was their bottled Champagne vinaigrette. I decided to make something easy for myself and other home cooks to mix up from scratch and thought a maple syrup with Dijon dressing would be perfect. I’ve included the recipe for the Champagne Vinaigrette in notes if that strikes your fancy too.
I always switch out Gorgonzola Cheese for Blue Cheese when I make this salad. I prefer the milder taste and more often have it on hand but the choice is yours. Though my original post had pecans in lieu of walnuts because they are what was available in my pantry, my latest effort included the original (and my favorite) nut.
For so many years, I ignored walnuts. I always bought them but if given the opportunity, I would grab pecans in a heartbeat. What changed? Toasting them changed everything. Even if you choose to not prepare the candied version, do make sure you toast them a bit, it makes a world of difference from eating them raw.
As for that dressing? I mixed up a combination of my favorite ingredients including maple syrup and Dijon whole grain mustard. You like Honey Dijon? You’ll love Maple Dijon even more!
At that time I had been working as a Brand Ambassador with Pure Canadian Maple Syrup. I had also been lucky enough to receive some amazing maple syrup from my friend Paula who lives in Canada. Then my neighbors brought me a bottle from Canada as a gift for watching their dog when they were on vacation; shows just how much people know my love for great maple syrup!
The perfect marriage for a blogger and a brand are when we are asked to work with a product we love; for me this was the dictionary description of a ‘no brainer.
Interestingly enough if you shop Costco like I do, take a peek at their Kirkland brand syrup…yep, pure Canadian Maple Syrup. I admit, growing up in a family with six kids, all we ever had was a substitute with ‘maple flavor.’ But once I discovered the real deal…there was no going back. Yes, it’s a bit pricier but so worth it.
HuffPost Taste has a great article, ‘Why Maple Syrup Is So Damn Expensive (And So Delicious)‘ that puts it into some perspective. That it it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one single gallon of maple syrup is an eye opener! Ah…what I wouldn’t give for a gallon of this elixir of the Gods; a girl can dream right?
I like to use either Red Anjou or Red Bartlett Pears and eliminate the step of peeling them, their color brings a lot to this salad. Most of the pear is chopped but I also like to save a couple of slices to garnish the top; they are just so pretty!
The Maple Dijon dressing is the perfect combination of olive oil, whole grain Dijon mustard and maple syrup; it is so good I can see it being used for more than just than salad. I can’t wait to try it on some grilled salmon too. This salad is great year round but especially perfect this time of year when pears are coming into the market; trust me, it’s a keeper!
I have one other favorite from Nordstrom’s too. Sure we’ve all had these Lemon Bars we love and when we ordered that’s what I expected, but these Lemon and Coconut Bars with Mascarpone Cheese are not the same and they are over the top delicious!
PIN IT ‘Pear, Walnut, and Gorgonzola Salad with Maple Dijon Dressing’
For the Maple Candied Walnuts or Pecans:
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup pecan or walnut halves
For Maple Dijon Vinaigrette (See Notes for Champagne Vinaigrette Ingredients)
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
- pepper to taste
For the Salad:
- Mesclun greens, 4-6 cups
- 2 pears, chopped (toss with some lemon juice to keep them from discoloring if necessary)
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion rings, halved
- 2/3 cup Maple Candied Walnuts or Pecans (in a pinch or watching sugar intake, just toast some nuts), roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
- Pear slices for garnish
To Make Candied Walnuts:
- Melt the butter in a pan
- Mix in the maple syrup and pepper
- Add the walnuts and toss to coat
- Cook on medium low heat about 15 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes. Watch carefully so they don't burn.
- Turn out on aluminum foil and let cool for 5 minutes; break apart if necessary.
To Make Either Dressing:
- Mix all ingredients in bowl using wire whisk.
To Plate the Salad:
- Place greens on individual plates. Top with pears, slices of red onion and spinkle nuts and cheese on top.
- Garnish with pear slices and drizzle dressing over salad.
My daughter worked for Nordstrom's for a couple of years in the Visual Merchandising Department after college. She asked and was given the recipe for the Champagne Vinaigrette so I've included that for you too if you're so inclined to make it at home! Use these ingredients and mix as indicated above.
- 1 Tablespoon shallots, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 cup Champagne wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups salad oil
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1071Total Fat: 98gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 80gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 718mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 7gSugar: 27gProtein: 7g
The nutritional information is computer-generated and only an estimate.
I have been compensated for featuring Canadian Maple Syrup in this post however all commentary is my own.