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This sweet and savory pear gorgonzola salad is a 5 star side dish! Juicy pears mingle with creamy cheese and maple pecans, all tossed in a tangy balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Pear Gorgonzola Salad
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If you’re looking for an all star side dish, this pear gorgonzola salad is the one. This pretty little salad will have you smitten, and it tastes just as good as these swoon-worthy photos we took! It’s a celebration of flavors and textures, with juicy pears, funky cheese, dried cherries, and maple pecans glazed quickly in a skillet. It’s all tossed in our go-to balsamic vinaigrette dressing, and from first bite it will have you wanting more!

Types of pears for pear gorgonzola salad

There are several different types of pears you can find at the grocery store. Pretty much anything you can find works for this pear gorgonzola salad! The most common varieties you’ll find at grocery stores in the States are:

  • Bartlett pear: This classic pear is typically green with a rounded shape. It’s known for its soft, juicy flesh and sweet flavor.
  • Anjou pear (shown in photos): This pear comes in both green and red varieties. Anjou pears are slightly firmer than Bartletts and have a more balanced sweet and tart flavor.
  • Bosc pear: This type has a deep brown skin with fresh, juicy flesh that has earthy notes.
Pear Gorgonzola Salad

How to ripen pears

Pears that you buy from the grocery store are often very firm and can take a while to ripen. They look similar to apples, but you can think of them more in terms of bananas when it comes to ripening. Here are some tips on how to ripen pears:

  • The fastest way to ripen pears is to place them in a paper bag. Leave them at room temperature and they should be ripe in 2 to 4 days.
  • In a bowl on the counter, pears ripen in about 4 to 7 days. Check them by gently pressing the flesh to see if it is tender.
  • Don’t place pears in the refrigerator until they are ripe. The refrigerator slows the ripening process. If you place them in the fridge right away, they’ll be rock hard. Allow them to ripen first, then refrigerate only if you want to delay eating them.
Pears with knife

Tips for maple glazed pecans

A fun accessory for this pear gorgonzola salad is the quick maple glazed pecans. Our standard recipe for candied pecans is baked and takes about 30 minutes. If we’re looking to whip up a salad and we don’t have candied nuts on hand, we make these maple pecans!

It takes just 5 minutes: you toast the nuts in the skillet, then add cinnamon and salt for 30 seconds. Turn off the heat and stir in the maple syrup. It’s such a small amount that it will caramelize quickly with the residual heat of the pan. Set them on a plate to dry while you make the rest of the salad!

Gorgonzola vs blue cheese

Can you use blue cheese in a pear gorgonzola salad? Yes! Gorgonzola and blue cheese are terms that are often used interchangeably, but blue cheese is actually a category of cheese whereas gorgonzola is a type of blue cheese. Either cheese works here!

  • Gorgonzola is a cheese made in Italy. It’s made from cow’s milk and has a milder flavor compared to other blue cheeses. Its texture varies from creamy and spreadable to crumbly, depending on the aging process.
  • Blue cheese is a category of cheeses with blue veining from made from edible molds. This encompasses a wider range of varieties, made from milks like cow, goat, or sheep (gorgonzola is a type of blue cheese). Blue cheeses you find at the store can be much stronger and sharper than gorgonzola.
Balsamic Vinaigrette

Dressing variations for pear gorgonzola salad

This pear gorgonzola salad is delicious with the balsamic vinaigrette listed in the recipe below, which is one of our favorite salad dressing recipes on this website! However, it works with other vinaigrette-style dressings as well. Try one of the following:

Topping ideas

There are loads of ideas for different toppings for a pear gorgonzola salad. Keep the greens and pears but swap in different cheese, nuts or other mix-ins for a versatile side. Here are some of our top ideas:

  • Dried cranberries or raisins can stand in for the cherries.
  • Pomegranate seeds make a beautiful pop of color and could also substitute dried cherries.
  • Feta crumbles or goat cheese crumbles work well as a substitute for the cheese.
  • Walnuts work in the same way as the maple pecans.
  • Or, swap in almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, or pine nuts (try toasting them first for the best flavor).
  • Use pepitas to add another crunchy element.
Pear Gorgonzola Salad

Add protein to make it a main dish

This pear gorgonzola salad works in any season, though it’s an ideal fall salad or winter salad. It can be made into an instant main dish by topping with a protein. It works well with chicken or salmon, though you could also add tofu as a vegetarian protein. Here are some recipes for cooking the protein:

More salad recipes

Fruit served over greens with nuts and a vinaigrette is our style of salad! Here are some more of our favorite salad recipes that incorporate fruit:

This pear gorgonzola salad recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free. For vegan, omit the gorgonzola.

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Pear Gorgonzola Salad

Pear Gorgonzola Salad


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
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Description

This sweet and savory pear gorgonzola salad is a 5 star side dish! Juicy pears mingle with creamy cheese and maple pecans, all tossed in a tangy balsamic vinaigrette dressing.


Ingredients

Scale
  • ½ cup pecan halves
  • ½ tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/16 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 recipe Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 1 ripe pear, sliced
  • 1 shallot
  • 8 cups butter lettuce (or other greens), torn
  • ⅓ cup gorgonzola cheese crumbles (or blue cheese)
  • ¼ cup dried cherries or cranberries

Instructions

  1. To make the maple pecans, toast the pecans in a skillet for 4 to 5 minutes until starting to brown and become fragrant. Add the cinnamon and salt and toast until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Turn off heat, and stir in maple syrup until well coated. Transfer to a plate to cool.
  2. Make the Balsamic Vinaigrette salad dressing.
  3. Prep the fresh ingredients: Slice the pear into thin slices. Thinly slice the shallot. 
  4. To serve, place the greens on a plate or platter. Top with the pear slices, shallot, maple pecans, and gorgonzola cheese crumbles. Drizzle with the desired amount of dressing and serve (use approximately 6 tablespoons for 4 servings; store the remaining dressing refrigerated).
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: Salad
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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