Roasted Pear and Gorgonzola Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Roasted Pear and Gorgonzola Salad, with Balsamic Dressing | Will Cook For Friends

Let me introduce you to my new favorite lunch combo. Warm roasted pears, salty gorgonzola cheese, toasted walnuts, and dried cranberries (or cherries), all brought together with some fresh arugula and spinach, and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette.I think I’m in love.

This salad is the epitome of why I love food. Each element is so simple — pears, walnuts, cheese, balsamic — but each one is elevated in the presence of the others. Every single flavor sings, and together they make a whole chorus. I don’t usually like blue cheese, even, but I find its sharp flavor is perfect here.

As much as I adore salads in the summer, I think fall is when I love them the most. Maybe I should do a series of my favorite fall salads, to help combat the onslaught of all the heavy holiday food… thoughts? Do you have a favorite fall salad, or a favorite combination of toppings? I’d love to know!

Roasted Pear and Gorgonzola Salad, with Balsamic Dressing | Will Cook For Friends

Roasted Pear and Gorgonzola Salad, with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Makes about 4-6 servings   (click HERE to print this recipe)


For the dressing:
3 TBSP good-quality balsamic vinegar
1 TBSP maple syrup
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/2-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt, to taste

For the salad:
4 firm, not-quite ripe pears (I used bartlett, but use what you like)
1 TBSP butter, melted (or coconut oil)
1 TBSP dark brown sugar
3/4-1 cup walnuts, or pecans
8 cups or so of mixed salad greens (I used arugula, spinach, red leaf lettuce, and baby kale, but frisee, radichio, chard, and escarole are all in season in the fall, too)
1/4-1/2 cup dried cranberries, or cherries
1/4-1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese, or other crumbly blue cheese

Method:
For the dressing:
Whisk together all the ingredients except the olive oil and salt. While whisking, pour in the olive oil. Start with a half cup, and adjust to taste. Add a pinch of salt, to taste. Cover and place in the fridge until ready to use. Whisk well before using. (Dressing can be made up to a week in advance.)

For the salad:
1.   Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F., and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment.
2.   Cut the pears into wedges (I cut mine into 1/8ths), and remove the stems and cores. Toss with the melted butter and brown sugar, and spread onto prepared baking sheet. Roast for 10-12 minutes, or until just tender (not mushy).
3.   Meanwhile, place the walnuts (or pecans) into a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast for 6-8 minutes, or until warm and flavorful. Give the pan a shake, or stir the nuts, every couple of minutes to keep them from burning — keep your eye on them!
4.   Combine your mixed greens, dried cranberries (or cherries), and crumbled cheese. When you are ready to serve, add the toasted nuts and roasted pears, while still warm. (You can keep your pears in wedges, as I did, or cut them into bite-sized pieces for easier eating.) Toss with dressing, to taste, and serve immediately.

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34 Responses to Roasted Pear and Gorgonzola Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

  1. shannon weber November 5, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

    oooohhhh you do not have to introduce me, Willow: we have already met. At least the idea and i have; this is one of my favorite salads ever, EVER, anytime, but especially right now. Filing this recipe away, because typically i cheat and don’t make my own dressing for this; i shall, though, starting now. thank you!

    • Willow Arlen November 7, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

      Heheh – I knew you’d like this one! We seem to have similar tastes when it comes to salads. :)

    • movita beaucoup November 9, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

      I’m with Shannon – loving this familiar combo, and the lovely dressing you’ve paired it with! And your photos are so warm and inviting…

  2. Tanya-Lemonsforlulu.com November 6, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    I love every flavor in this salad! Especially those roasted pears!

    • Willow Arlen November 7, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

      Thanks, Tanya! The pears are my favorite part. :)

  3. Amy @ Elephant Eats November 6, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    I made a similar salad a month or so ago…such a yummy combo! Your pics are gorgeous. I’m totally craving a bowl of that now :)

    • Willow Arlen November 7, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

      Thanks, Amy! Just thinking about it makes me want to make it again… I might have to try a quick substitute with apples, since I don’t have any pears on hand.

  4. cristina November 6, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

    What a beautiful autumn salad with tasty, good ingredients. Making this one for sure!

    • Willow Arlen November 7, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

      Thanks, Cristina! I hope you like it. :)

  5. Abby November 7, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    Please do a series!! I’d love to see it, this sounds delicious. :)

    • Willow Arlen November 7, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

      Thanks, Abby! I’ll see what I can do. :)

  6. Erin | The Law Students Wife November 8, 2013 at 3:37 am #

    I am all for the fall salad onslaught Willow! Also, we should be meal buddies–I just baked a caramelized pear and gorgonzola quiche (with pecans! I’m sure walnuts are just as fab or better). Now I want to try all the same ingredients in this gorgeous dish.

    • Willow Arlen November 20, 2013 at 3:06 am #

      Mm, I bet that quiche is amazing! This is definitely one of my favorite flavor combinations right now. Pecans, walnuts, whatever. :P

    • Alicia Merlino September 22, 2016 at 6:42 pm #

      Please share this amazing recipe.

      • Willow Arlen September 23, 2016 at 10:10 am #

        Hi Alicia! I think I actually know the one Erin mentioned. You can find it by going to her site — wellplated.com — and searching for “pear and gorgonzola quiche”. She has a few quiche recipes, and you have to scroll down a bit to find the right one. Hope that helps!

  7. Shelly West November 8, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    I could eat this everyday! We eat salads for lunch and I’m always looking for new combinations. Love the mix of sweet pears and salty gorgonzola here!

  8. DessertForTwo November 8, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

    I think I’m in love, too! I seem to eat more salads in the fall too, mainly because I’m preparing for my Thanksgiving calorie intake ;)

  9. Wendy @ Cooking Quinoa November 8, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    This looks so amazing Willow! I love everything about it – especially the dressing. I’m putting this one on the menu. :)

  10. Faye and Yvonne November 12, 2013 at 12:46 am #

    I’m usually not big on salads in the Fall/Winter but this just changed my mind!! More please

  11. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes November 20, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    I am in total agreement with you; I LOVE fall salads and tend to eat more salads in the fall than in summer…kinds strange now that I think of it. You have all the perfect ingredients for a perfect Fall salad!

  12. Linda Madretzke February 14, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

    The salad dressing recipe for the pear salad was ‘spot on” using maple syrup was wonderful.
    Thanks for a great Valentine’s Day meal side dish.

    • Willow Arlen February 16, 2015 at 12:50 pm #

      You’re welcome, I’m glad you liked it!

      • Ang September 27, 2015 at 9:35 pm #

        I’m cooking next week for our annual harvest dinner for 200 and was going to make a salad similar. I love the idea of roasting the pears, but I’m limited on oven space. Would they taste ok if I roasted the pears in advance and then just warmed them up? I’m not a chef just a group of volunteers putting on a fundraiser and would love some advise. Thanks.

        • Willow Arlen September 29, 2015 at 6:55 pm #

          Hi Ang, that’s a great question! I think they would do fine to be roasted in advance and then reheated. Maybe under-bake them just a smidge so they don’t get too soft when you reheat them, and you should be good to go. Good luck with your event, cooking for that many people is no small task!

  13. Eva July 3, 2016 at 12:32 am #

    This was AMAZING loved this savory salad. My favorite!!

  14. Alicia Merlino September 22, 2016 at 6:43 pm #

    Made this tonight. Totally delish!

    • Willow Arlen September 23, 2016 at 10:01 am #

      Thanks Alicia, so glad you liked it!

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