Pear & Gorgonzola Salad with Candied Walnuts

Crisp pears, pomegranates, tangy gorgonzola and sweet candied walnuts are all tossed together in the best maple-balsamic vinaigrette! It’s the perfect side dish for fall!

Pear and gorgonzola kale salad in a red bowl surrounded by candied walnuts and fresh pear slices

Salads have always been my jam. But there’s just something so different about fall salads that I can’t quite seem to put my finger on. (And by different, I mean super yummy!😉) Maybe it’s the fact that most fall salads are a little sweet and savory and I personally think that’s the best flavor profile in world?! I don’t know…but whatever it is, I’m so here for it! And this pear & gorgonzola salad with candied walnuts has become a staple in our house during these colder months.

Ingredients used to make a pear and gorgonzola kale salad

Ingredients for Pear & Gorgonzola Salad

  • Pears: I love using Barlett pears for this recipe!
  • Pomegranate seeds: Fresh pomegranate seeds are the best.
  • Gorgonzola: Use a block of gorgonzola instead of gorgonzola crumbles. I’ve found that the blocks have so much more flavor. (Not a fan of gorgonzola? Try this salad with feta or goat cheese instead!)
  • Candied walnuts: Feel free to use store bought or homemade candied nuts. (I always love candying my own nuts and included my go-to recipe in this post below! Keep scrolling!)
  • Green Kale: Look for kale with firm sturdy leaves that aren’t wilted for the best results. (Not a fan of kale? This recipe would also be fabulous with mixed greens too.)
  • Maple-balsamic vinaigrette: A little sweet, a little tangy and ties all your salad ingredients together!

What kind of pear should I use for my salad?

I personally love using bartlett pears for this salad because they’re incredibly flavorful and juicy and still have a crisp bite to them. (If you can’t find bartletts then try using Asian pairs instead. Those are Charlie’s favorite and they’re super crunchy and sweet which will add a nice texture to your salad.)

Where can I find all these delicious varieties of pears at?! My favorite store – Sprouts obviously! The first time we actually saw Asian pears was during one of our grocery trips and we’ve been hooked ever since. They’re so good! Plus I know I can always count on Sprouts to have the best quality when it comes to fresh produce and I love that they’re always introducing me to new varieties too!

Bartlett pears on a wood board ready to be cut for a salad
Maple candied walnuts in a skillet on the stove

How to Make A Pear & Gorgonzola Salad

  1. Make your candied nuts. Follow my directions for homemade candied walnuts or buy your favorite andied walnuts form the store.
  2. Massage your kale. Chop your kale leaves into bite size pieces & drizzle a small amount of olive oil over your leaves. (Or spray them avocado oil spray.) Then use your hands to massage the kale for about 5 minutes or until the kale begins to wilt and turn a bright green color.
  3. Prepare the rest of your ingredients. Core & slice your pears, gather your pomegranate arils, whisk your dressing ingredients together and crumble your gorgonzola.
  4. Toss & serve! Add your kale, pear slices, pomegranates & gorgonzola to a large bowl and toss with your desired amount of dressing. Then sprinkle your candied walnuts over the top and serve!
2 pear salads in red bowls surrounded by candied walunts and a freshly sliced pear

My Go-To Candied Walnut Recipe

If you’re looking for a tasty candied walnut recipe that’s super easy too…this is it! I use the same process for all kinds of nuts and they come out perfectly every single time! All you need is:

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp salt
  1. Add your walnuts and syrup to a pot and bring them to a boil ovr medium heat.
  2. Then turn the heat down to medium low and let them simmer for 18-20 minutes.
  3. Your nuts will go through 3 phases:
    • 1) Your syrup will look “liquidy” & bubble a lot.
    • 2) A thicker syrup will form & coat your walnuts.
    • 3) Your syrup with crystalized onto your walnut pieces.
  4. Once the syrup has crystalized, pour the nuts out onto a pan or plate and let them cool completely before tossing them in your salad. (Or eating them by the handful… they’re seriously soo good!)
A kale salad made with sliced pears, pomegranates, gorgonzola, candied walnuts and maple-balsamic vinaigrette

FAQ’s

  • Do I have to massage the kale for my salad? YES! Massaging your kale helps to soften it, making the leaves easier to eat & brings out their flavor too.
  • Do I have to leave my pears in slices? Not at all! Slices always look so pretty in salads but they can be a little difficult to eat that way. Feel free to chop them up instead!
  • Do I have to peel my pears? Nope. Leaving the skin on adds extra nutrients and they’re still easy to eat.
  • Can I use a different type of nut? Absolutely! Pecans would be a great alternative. (Just make sure to use a “candied nut” for a replacement.)

Why you’ll love this pear salad recipe

  • So many different flavors & textures! Crisp pears, juicy pomegranates, tangy cheese, crunchy sweet walnuts & my balsamic dressing! This salad is a wild ride for your tastebuds!
  • Easy to customize! Switch out the kale for mixed greens or replace the gorgonzola with a different cheese! There’s so many different ways you could make this salad!
  • “Pears” well with everything! (See what I did there?!😉) But really though, you could serve this salad as a side dish to any protein and it would be delicious!

Need it gluten free? Great news, it already is!

Need it dairy free? Just omit the cheese! (It’s still delicious without it!)

More salad recipes you might like:

[Made one of my recipes? Make sure to tag my Instagram @kalefornia_kravings & leave a review in the comments. I love seeing what you create!]

Pear & Gorgonzola Salad with Candied Walnuts

Crisp pears, pomegranates, tangy gorgonzola and green kale are tossed in a sweet maple-balsamic vinagrette & topped with candied walnuts! It's a tasty salad that's perfect for any occasion!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: candied walnuts, Christmas, easy, gluten free, gorgonzola, kale, maple-balsamic dressing, pear, salad, side dish, Thanksgiving
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Caitlin

Ingredients

For the candied walnuts:

  • 1 cup walnuts*
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp salt

For the maple-balsamic vinaigrette:

  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Cracked black pepper, to taste

For the kale salad:

  • 2 bunches of kale, leaves cut off the stem & chopped**
  • 2-3 barlett pears, cored & sliced
  • ¾ cup pomegranate arils
  • ½ cup gorgonzola crumbles

Instructions

To make the maple-balsamic vinaigrette:

  • Whisk all your vinaigrette ingredients together in a bowl and set aside while you prepare your salad.

To make the candied walnuts:

  • Pour your walnuts, maple syrup and salt in a pot and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium low and let them simmer for 18-20 minutes (stir occasionally).
  • Your walnuts will go through 3 phases.
    1) The syrup will be very "liquidy" & bubbling.
    2) A thicker syrup will form & coat your walnuts.
    3) The syrup will crystallize onto your nuts.
  • Once the syrup has crystallized, pour your walnuts onto a tray to cool completely.

To make the salad:

  • Place your kale leaves in a large bowl and drizzle a small amount of olive oil over them. (Or spray them with avocado oil spray.) Then use your hands to massage the kale for 5 minutes or until it softens and turns bright green.
  • Next add your pears, pomegranate arils and gorgonzola to the bowl and toss with your desired amount of dressing. Sprinkle your candied walnuts over the top right before serving.

Notes

*Store bought candied walnuts can be used instead.
**Not a fan of kale? Use mixed greens instead. If using mixed greens, simply add the greens to a bowl with the rest of your ingredients.
 

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