This simple green salad topped with crunchy pears, creamy gorgonzola cheese, and candied pecans drizzled with a Dijon vinaigrette dressing is the perfect companion to any winter dinner.
Everyone needs a great green salad for those winter days when seasonal farmers markets have closed up shop. This one, made with your favorite mellow greens and radicchio’s somewhat bitter-spiced bite, is topped with ever-so-slightly under ripened pears that add a crispness to match the crunch of easy-to-make sweet candied pecans. It’s all dressed with a simple homemade dijon mustard dressing and topped with pinches of creamy, gorgonzola cheese. It’s the ying and yang flavor combination I crave no matter what the season.
Similar to my ultimate Italian platter salad, I like to serve this salad on a big plate or in a shallow dish—where there’s no need for tossing and I can avoid all of the good, chunky bites disappearing at the bottom of a bowl.
What’s In This Salad
This salad is the perfect balance of sweet and tart, and matches so deliciously with everything from a creamy bowl of broccoli cheese soup to my favorite pasta bolognese, to a simple lemon and rosemary roast chicken (that you can serve shredded on top to make this salad a meal.)
Here’s what’s in this salad:
- Lettuce mix of spring greens, butter lettuce, and radicchio
- Pears, slightly under ripened so they’re crisp not mushy. Any variety or combination of your favorites
- Creamy gorgonzola cheese (or regular blue cheese works too)
- Candied pecans from this recipe or a good store brand
- Dijon vinaigrette made with:
- Seasoned rice vinegar
- Diced shallots
- Dijon mustard
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
How to Make the Dijon Vinaigrette Dressing
You can make this dressing up to 2 weeks in advance, store it in the refrigerator, then bring it to room temperature before using. It’s also delicious drizzled on cooked vegetables or as a quick marinade for chicken.
Choose your vessel: Whisk the dressing in a bowl or shake it in a jar with a lid. Both methods work really well, but I do find I get a thicker, more emulsified dressing when I slowly whisk the oil into the vinegar.
Add the Dijon, minced shallots, and vinegar before adding the oil. The acid from both the mustard and vinegar mellows the heat of the shallots but still retains that French bistro vibe.
Mix the dressing. While whisking, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the ingredients until thickened and full-bodied. Or, make this dressing super easy by adding everything at once to a glass jar, screw tight with a lid, and shake to emulsify. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, adding more of either to taste.
Choose Your Mix
Select a mix of tender lettuces. I’ve become a stalker of the best tender leaves of fluffy butter lettuces and locally grown baby red leaf lettuces in my grocery store’s produce department. Choose any of your leafy favorites for this salad.
Then add a radicchio crunch. This Italian green adds a lightly bitter bite that balances the sweetness of the salad’s fruit and nut toppings and adds color to the salad. Substitute chopped purple cabbage if radicchio isn’t your thing.
Add the Sweet Crunch of Candied Pecans and Pears
Make the candied pecans on the stovetop in three simple steps. Cinnamon and nutmeg flavor these quick candied nuts. Add a pinch of cayenne, chili powder, or smoked paprika for more heat.
Choose firm but not hard pears for the salad. Any variety of pears works of this salad, so long as they aren’t overripe and mushy. For hard pears, set them on the countertop with bananas nearby to ripen within a day or so.
Drizzle with Dressing and Add the Cheese Please
Creamy gorgonzola or a firmer blue cheese adds to this salad’s tang. Substitute goat cheese or even a diced white cheddar would be tasty.
Dress the salad just before serving. This helps the delicate lettuces hold up best.
Recipe Ideas to Serve With This Salad
- Crispy Baked Garlic Shrimp
- How to Make the BEST Meatballs
- Chicken Marsala
- Creamy Lemon Chicken Breasts and Mushrooms
- Vegetarian Crockpot Lasagna Soup
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Green Salad with Pears, Gorgonzola, and Candied Pecans
For the Candied Pecans
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup pecan halves
For the Dijon Vinaigrette
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar , seasoned or unseasoned
- 1 tablespoon shallot , minced
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Salad
- 8 cups lettuce mix of spring greens, butter lettuce, and radicchio
- 3 pears , cored and sliced
- 4 ounces soft Gorgonzola cheese , crumbled
- First, make the candied pecans. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a skillet over medium heat, stir the sugar, water, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together. Cook until the sugar begins to melt. Add the nuts and cook, stirring often, until the nuts are toasted and glazed. Spoon the nuts onto the prepared sheet pan to cool, separating with a fork. Sprinkle with a little coarse salt if desired.
- Next, make the dressing in either a small bowl or a jar fitted with a lid. To make in the bowl, add the vinegar, shallots, and Dijon mustard then slowly drizzle the olive oil into the mix while whisking continuously until emulsified. Season with kosher salt and pepper, adding more to taste. Or, add all of the ingredients to the jar, close the lid tightly, and shake well.
- On a large platter or in a shallow bowl, layer the lettuces with the radicchio. Nestle the sliced pears and cooled candied pecans into the lettuce leaves then top with chunks of gorgonzola cheese. Drizzle the dressing over the top just before serving.
More Winter Salad Recipe Ideas
- Roasted Beet and Ricotta Salad
- Classic Blue Cheese Wedge Salad
- Outrageous Herbaceous Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
- Arugula Salad With Shaved Parmesan Three Ways
- Kale Salad with Cranberries, Apple and Cheddar Cheese
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