Winter Crisp Pear and Walnut Salad with Gorgonzola
This easy and festive pear and walnut salad is perfect for the fall and winter! Use your favorite greens, and top them with slices of pears, pomegranate arils, toasted walnuts, and crumbled gorgonzola cheese. Drizzle in my homemade ginger honey vinaigrette.
Talk about a festive salad!
This pear and walnut salad is *almost* too pretty to eat.
It boasts delicious, delicate flavors of pears that pear (can’t pass up a good pun) beautifully with the homemade ginger honey vinaigrette. The sweet and tart pomegranate arils add a little complexity to the salad with lots of crunch from the walnuts. The ginger honey vinaigrette is what ties this whole thing together. It’s a little hot from the fresh ginger and the shake of cayenne, but it’s also sweet with the honey and nutty from the splash of sesame oil wait until you taste it all together.
Pear and walnut salad is the type of salad you make to impress people. It’s the kind of salad that gives off the impression that you know what you’re doing in the kitchen, even if you’re a novice cook.
This is one colorful appetizer for any holiday meal and the perfect side dish to serve with a simple roast chicken and some garlicky roasted potatoes. And speaking of chicken, you could easily shred up a rotisserie chicken and add it to this salad to make it a complete meal with lots of protein if you need a light lunch.
Ingredients for pear and walnut salad:
- Greens: feel free to use baby spinach, arugula, or a spring mix here. The base of the salad is totally up to you! Shredded brussels sprouts with some curly kale would be equally delicious. Arugula is also called rocket for my friends across the pond!
- Walnuts: I usually keep a bulk of walnut halves in the freezer (they stay fresher that way!) When you’re ready to make this salad, just dry toast them in a skillet for a few minutes and give them a rough chop before tossing them on top of the salad.
- Gorgonzola: is an earthy cheese that pairs well with the delicate fruit in this salad. If you like blue cheese, which has a more robust flavor than Gorgonzola, feel free to make the swap here. If you aren’t a fan of Gorgonzola or blue cheese in general, feel free to use goat cheese or feta cheese if you’d like.
- Pears: I like to use a crisp bartlett pear or a red pear for this recipe. You can use bosc pears or any other variety you like to eat!
- Pomegranate seeds: Add a natural crunch alongside the walnuts. They’re sweet little arils that burst in your mouth when you bite into them, and they make this a delicious winter salad.
- Olive Oil: I use olive oil as the vinaigrette base here. You’ll also need a splash of toasted sesame oil. You won’t be able to pick the sesame oil out, but it does enhance all the other flavors in the recipe.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: This is the vinegar portion of the vinaigrette. It adds the perfect tang to the recipe. You can also swap this for white wine vinegar and omit the sesame oil if you want a more delicate dressing.
- Dijon Mustard: Help emulsify the dressing.
- Fresh Ginger: adds freshness and a little heat to the dressing. It also has immune-boosting properties, so it’s great to consume raw in the form of a dressing!
- Honey: Adds sweetness and tames down the heat from the ginger a bit. I prefer this recipe with honey, but vegan friends, you can swap the honey for agave or maple syrup if you’d like.
- Seasonings: You’ll need a dash of cayenne, kosher salt, and black pepper.
How to make a killer pear salad
- Toast the walnuts. Start by adding the walnuts to a dry skillet over medium heat. You don’t need to add any oil. Allow the walnuts to toast for a minute, then toss with the handle or using a wooden spoon. Continue for another few minutes or until the nuts are fragrant and slightly deeper in color. Remove them to a cutting board and let them cool before giving them a rough chop.
- Make the dressing. Add the extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, vinegar, Dijon, honey ginger, cayenne, salt, and pepper to a glass jar, top with a lid, and shake until combined. You can also whisk the dressing if you prefer.
- Toss the salad. Arrange the arugula in a large salad bowl or a platter. Top with ripe pears and pomegranate arils, and toss with half of the dressing. See if the greens need any more by tasting. Adjust with more dressing as you prefer. Then, top the pear and walnut salad with crumbled Gorgonzola and chopped walnuts.
If you like this salad, you might also like:
- Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Apples, Manchego, and Pomegranate
- Honeycrisp Kale Apple Salad with Parmesan Vinaigrette
- Crunchy Parmesan Kale Caesar Salad
- Crisp Apple Sweet Potato Salad
- Broccoli Salad with Creamy Poppyseed Dressing
Pear and Walnut Salad:
- ½ cup walnut halves
- 5 ounces arugula (baby spinach or spring mix)
- ½ cup crumbled Gorgonzola (or bleu cheese)
- 1½ large pear, thinly sliced (such as red, bosc, or bartlett)
- ½ cup pomegranate arils (or dried cranberries/cherries)
Ginger Honey Vinaigrette:
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon honey (plus more)
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated or minced
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt + black pepper
- Pinch of cayenne
- WALNUTS: Add the walnuts to a dry skillet over medium heat. Don’t add any oil. Allow the walnuts to toast for 1 minute, then toss with a wooden spoon. Continue for another 3-4 minutes or until the nuts are fragrant and a slightly deeper color. Remove from a skillet to a cutting board and give them a rough chop; set aside.
- DRESSING: Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Taste and adjust with more seasonings or honey as desired.
- SALAD: Arrange the arugula in a large bowl or on a platter, top with pear slices, and pomegranate arils. Toss with half of the dressing. Taste and adjust with more dressing as desired. Top with gorgonzola and toasted walnuts, and serve.