Pear, Walnut and Gorgonzola Salad with Maple Dijon Dressing
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’
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
- ½ cup pecan or walnut halves
For Maple Dijon Vinaigrette (See Notes for Champagne Vinaigrette Ingredients)
- ¾ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- ¼ 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)
- ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion rings halved
- ⅔ cup Maple Candied Walnuts or Pecans in a pinch or watching sugar intake, just toast some nuts, roughly chopped
- ⅓ 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.
- 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
I have been compensated for featuring Canadian Maple Syrup in this post however all commentary is my own.
I usual have ever used honey with mustard but maple syrup is something that I have to try. is there an alternative to champagne vinegar? Don’t think I will be able to find it easily in Europe. Thanks
How about white, white wine, or apple cider vinegar? Any of those would be complementary too.
What an elegant looking salad 🙂 I bet my husband would even eat this and he isn’t a big salad eater 🙂
Barbara, I vaguely remember this Nordstrom fare, but yours looks and sounds scrumptious. The combination of flavors wins on all levels. Pinned!
You do know that I would eat this for dessert? It has everything that I love! And gosh not only is your newer photo better but the salad looks better, too!
It is probably my favorite salad and I’m sure what started my love of fruit in salads. So much so that lettuce and tomatoes just seem bland! I suppose we could re-photo every year and see improvement couldn’t we?
One of my favorite salads. I’m a sucker for anything with REAL maple syrup!
Isn’t that the truth Liz…me too? I mean I could chug it if it weren’t so pricey I want to save some. :()
I’m not sure there’s a more perfect combination of foods than blue cheese, pears, and walnuts. And adding a maple Dijon dressing is perfect. Awesome post, Barbara!
Thanks Bill; appreciate your kind words!
I think the purple onions are the best addition so just take credit for them, Barb! What a wonderful salad! I am partial to pecans for various reasons so it’s good to know that they are a good substitute. Not that I don’t like walnuts, but if I am going to sing the jiggle, it’s got to be “sometimes I feel like a nut” and the nut I most feel like is pecan.
It takes all kinds…of nuts! Thanks for the chuckle!
Is there any better combination than this? I don’t think so. There is a little cafe in Nottingham that serves a salad similar to this but they also add chicken and bacon. Needless to say, it is one of my must do stops when I visit. Now you’ve gone and made me homesick.
Every time I go into Nordstrom’s I am determined to try something new but every single time I get this salad I love it so much. Makes me a bit nostalgic too since often it was meeting Lauren there for lunch. Not such an easy task anymore!
I made a maple dijon dressing recently that I got from Chris at the Cafe. It was to die for and now this salad and a similar dressing – well that puts me over the top. 🙂
One of my favorite dressings; I’ll add different herbs too to mix it up. I haven’t bought a salad dressing from the grocery in years; homemade is not only easy but they taste SO good don’t they Maureen?
This was a wonderful salad! All the ingredients blended well – pears, pecans and blue cheese with a sweet dressing. I candied the pecans and whipped up the Maple Dijon Vinaigrette. Served with Roasted Chicken and Caramelized Carrots. Thank you for sharing a great recipe!
Glad you loved it too; I can not go to Nordstrom’s Cafe and order anything but this salad and now craving it at home again; thanks for the reminder!
My gf absolutely loves the salmon nicoise salad from nordstrom cafe. If its no trouble i’d like the recipe to make for her on her birthday which is readily coming up. 😀 Cheers! 😀
I have not had the time to break it down from the restaurant portions but I’ve got the original files from Nordstrom’s I’ll send to your email if you want to try and fiddle with those figures yourself…hope that helps!
Hello. I love this salad thank you very much for sharing. I will be trying it soon. Also, you mentioned that you are able to get other recipes and I absolutely love their carrot cake. If you are able to get it I would love to make it. Thank you very much!
Hello – love your site! You wouldn’t happen to also have the recipe for Nordstrom’s creamy garlic vinaigrette, too? I had their shrimp salad with this dressing and warm polenta croutons and cannot find a recipe anywhere.
I don’t Jen and ‘normally’ I might suggest I would try to get it for you but I’m literally buried in work getting my home ready to go on sale. Cleaning, packing, pitching to the nth degree…if you remind me sometime down the road I’ll see what I can do.
Hi I’m so glad I found your blog! I love Nordstroms cafe! My daughter and I love trying EVERYTHING there! Do you have time to post the creamy garlic salad dressing? I really would appreciate it. Thank you! Great blog!
Made this salad tonight and it was delicious. My husband and granddaughter absolutely loved it. This recipe was a real find. Would like the recipe for the Nicoise salad also.
So glad you enjoyed it Eleanor; it’s been a favorite of mine for a long time. I don’t know if their renovated places even have it…I’m afraid to find out. I’ve not broken down the info for the Nicoise that they provided, they’re restaurant portions. I can send those if you want?
Would love to have it. I’ve been working with recipes for many years so I’m sure I could work it out. Appreciate any help..thanks
OK…sent via email. Enjoy!
Barb, Can you send me the Salmon Nicoise Salad recipe? I would appreciate it so much.
Could you kindly please share the Nordie nicoise salad recipe. My husband and I absolutely love it. Thank you in advance.:))
Could I get a copy of the nicoise salad? My husband is addicted to it and they make their salmon perfectly!! Thanks!
are you still able to share the salmon nicoise salad from nordstrom cafe? i would love tthe recipe!
I had misplaced it but now it’s found! It is in proportions they use so you’ll have to break it down, but it’s been sent via email.
do you have the recipe for nordstrom cafe’s honey dijon dressing?
I do not Carol and the local store’s kitchen has closed for remodeling. I would suggest you substitute the maple syrup in the dijon dressing with honey in this recipe?
the maple Dijon vinaigrette sounds heavenly. A perfect balance to the pear, cheese, and candied nuts. Thank you so much for linking up to the salad recipe roundup.
It is Wendy; this is seriously one of my most favorite salads…I always have good intentions but it’s what I order each and every time I visit the Cafe too.
Hi! Is it too late to get a copy of the Salmon Nicoise salad from Nordstrom’s cafe? Thank you so much for sharing the other recipe here. I’m making it tonight. Thanks!
Glad I could help Jill…let me know if you make the Salad Nicoise and how it turns out…I might bug you for the revision to ‘family’ portions.
Could I PLEASE get the recipe for Nordstrom Nicoise Salmon Salad. It is my favorite.!!!!Could you e-mail me your recipe?
On it’s way…well, their version is. I have yet to break it down so you’ll have to fiddle with the recipe a bit if that’s OK.
And now I’ve spent 20 minutes trying to locate the file folder with the recipe pages without success. I have to leave…maybe it will magically come to me later; I’ll send them when I can find them or ask Nordstrom’s to send me copies again. But me if you need to; I’ve got a lot on my plate right now!
I would love a copy of the salmon nicoise recipe. Someone below mentioned having it at the Park Meadows location. In case you havn’t heard they closed the cafe last Sunday for remodeling and the nicoise salad will NOT be on the new menu!!! I ate it everyday last week 🙁
I had a reader ask for it recently and I’ve searched everywhere for it. They are typically pretty good about sharing…I would have to contact the staff at Park Meadows but they’re not there during the renovation…could you contact the staff at the Cherry Creek store and see if they’ll provide that for you?
I can’t stay away from the Nordstrom Nicoise Salmon Salad whenever I’m at Park Meadows. It is my favorite. Could you e-mail me your recipe.
Lynn, I have that recipe already if you’re prepared to knock it down from restaurant portions. I’ll have to search for it now but it’s around somewhere!
The Nordstrom Salad Nicoise with dijon balsamic is my very favorite! Would you mind please forwarding me the recipe?
Dee in VA
Dee, hope you’ll let me know how it turns out and have fun with those restaurant proportions!
How did I miss this? I Love, LOVE Love, Nordstrom Cafe and addicted to their salads!! Been a fan for years!! Love this salad, of course and your touch of using milder cheese and maple gift, which makes it the more special!! Drooling here too!!
Well, let’s meet there for lunch soon, how’s that?
One of the nicest things about shopping at Nordstrom is the lunch break I take in their cafe. I usually get a salad–this or their Salmon Nicoise. Thanks for sharing the recipe. That first picture has me thinking of lunch before I’ve even had breakfast!
Barb. Great new picture – the colors and textures inviting. I’m going to ask to see your new camera the next time I see you. I also like this salad with manchego cheese.
I’ll be happy to show you my new baby. I have yet to figure it all out so guess it’s a good thing it’s not a real baby or there would be big trouble!
What a scrumptious salad! Your photo makes me want to dig right in. All of the ingredients sound so great that the salad just sounds like a winner all around. By the way, it’s my first time here and you have great recipes and photography. Have a great day!
Thank you Nancy…I guess that’s what we really hope for; to make the dish look as good as it tastes!
wow…every element in this recipe is amazing and so well paired: the pear-blue-cheese combination, the maple candied walnuts, the champagne vinaigrette… this is a winner for any dinner (not only for a ladies’ lunch)
My absolute favorite I must admit! Wish I had a pear tree.
Oh yes, one of my most favourite of salads! And wow does that dressing sound good. Dijon is like water in my house…it’s in everything!
I would probably have it a LOT if not for the fact that finding good pears is not that easy. Buying them hard as a rock does not spell good results for me!
I agree with you, walnuts are the best. I’d choose those over pecans any day. Candied walnuts are dangerous to have around though, as I’m afraid most would end up in my stomach before they would make it into the salad!
I didn’t used to be that way…but toasting or cooking walnuts in any way changes the way they taste so much for me…it’s elevated them above the ‘p’ word now!
this is so lovely- this is a salad that reminds me of mother-daughter time. it’s my mum’s favourite salad and we go to Nordstrom whenever i am visiting her in Potomac, Maryland. it’s wonderful to see that there are others who love it and have shared the recipe. x shayma
Nice…now you could make it for your mum? Bet she would love that; I know I would.
I have had this salad on the brain for the last 2 days! Finally went to the store today to get pears. I still haven’t unpacked the groceries, but threw this baby together as soon as I walked in the door! Both me and my husband loved it! But really? how can you go wrong? And in 20 minutes, I had the walnuts glazed and toasted, the maple dijon vinaigrette shaken up in a well-sealed container, pears chopped & eating! Yum!
I do believe I could dive head first in this salad and never have to come up for air! Love everything about it!!! Nice.
There is something great about a nice pear and gorgonzola salad this time of the year. We know we should have a salad but it is winter- this hits the spot. And good job on the new and improved pictures!
I do eat a lot of salads this time of year after holiday indulgences but I don’t skimp either. I watch breakfast and lunch carefully so that my dinner salad can have meat or cheese and even ‘real’ dressing in moderation but is still a lean course and filling. More to come!
Guess what I am now making for dinner??? Brain isn’t firing on all cylinders and the answer to my question of what to make for dinner just appeared – this fabulous salad!!
I love that you posted your original photo – look how far you have come!!!!!! (Take that TS and FG!!).
Too much partying can lead to that you know? Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
yes, this is one of the very first salads we tried when we veered away from ‘packaged salad mixes’ many, MANY moons ago, thank God!! i do remember taking that first bite and silence – we both looked at each other, eyes wides – you’d thought we’d just discovered America!
Beautiful salad Barb. Love having this dressing recipe, thanks for posting it and thanks to Nordstrom for sharing. Now I’m really looking forward to a trip to the cafe.
This looks soooo yummy. And it’s nice to see how things have progressed on your site. I do like the original picture, but have to say your new photo looks amazing.
Pear, blue cheese and walnuts add the crunch and flavor salads sometimes lack. The dressing is wonderful too.
You are so right…it’s hearty enough for me that I can eat it for dinner as a main course; and I would tonight but just used up my last pear. Sad 🙁
This is my kind of salad! If I had all the ingredients, and wasn’t snowed in…I would be all over it. 🙂 Have the pears, and the cheese, not lettuce, or most everything else. LOL Oh well. Next trip to the store….list will be with me. Yum!
I know that feeling; pretty well stocked but want to make a dish in the issue of Food and Wine that showed up today. Red cabbage, Brussels sprouts and pine nuts. Hmm…guessing it will be cabbage-less!
Barb – delicious! Love that you shared with us Nordstrom’s salad. Used to frequent cafe often when I worked near one. Now, not so much.
Oh, and I love that you’re keeping the old picture – what a great way to show how far your photog skills have advanced!!
I haven’t been in awhile but every time I go I am determined to try something new. I fail; I get this salad.
This looks and sounds delicious. I love the idea of maple syrup and dijon in the dressing at this time of year. And nothing is more fabulous than incorporating gifts into the making. I really DO think it makes it more special. BTW your first photo is not bad!
I just love it; sometimes wonder why I don’t do it more often but it’s all dependent on getting good pears!
This is my kind of salad and I have a very similar recipe. It is with baked and spiced pecans. I like the improved picture you took with your new camera. Are you happy with your new camera? I got a new one, too and like it a lot.
Whenever my mother in law is in town she has to stop at the Nordstrom Cafe.
I used to go with my mom to the Nordstrom’s Cafe at the Short Hills Mall in NJ. They had the most wonderful salads (and some awesome popovers too). Love all of the ingredients here… but that dressing is the real star in my opinion.
It would be awesome to be able to sit together and share some conversation and this salad with you Barb, especially since your changed up the bleu cheese for Gorgonzola (not a big fan of bleu) LOL! This is the first recipe I’ve seen for salad dressing using maple syrup and I will definitely try it as I will Nordstrom’s Champagne Vinaigrette. Thanks for posting this again and thank you for the mention. I’m happy you are enjoying a little bit of Canada in Colorado!
Would love to get the recipe for Nordstrom’s Nicoise Salad with Salmon – get it every time I go there!!
I love the Nicoise salad with salmon with the dijon balsamic vinaigrette. We live over an hour from the nearest Nordstrom cafe so I don’ get it very often. Did your daughter happen to get the recipe for that dressing?
Kathy…I’ll ask my daughter; she’s actually back working on the Visual Team with Nordstrom’s so is there every day. I had heard that they were no longer giving out printed recipes but no harm in asking. I’ll let you know.
Could I get the recipe for the Nordstrom’s Nicoise Salad with Salmon?
Thank you so much!
Kathy, made a call, getting the recipe emailed to me…helps to have them know my daughter, but they also understand it’s good for them to have a blogger espousing their fabulous food! I’ll let you know again when it’s up; could you go to contact form and send me an email address?
Tried this tonight…. absolutely delicious! Crisp pears and tangy cheese blended with the maple/dijon dressing were perfect. A must try!