I first posted this recipe for a Pear, Walnut and Blue Cheese Salad seven years ago so it seems perfect timing for an update. I was using a point and shoot camera on the verge of dying and only had pecans in lieu of my beloved walnuts. So it seemed appropriate when I made it again yesterday that I do a re-posting; it is my favorite salad of all time. I give all credit to Nordstrom’s Cafe; once I discovered their Pear, Walnut and Blue Cheese Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette I don’t think I’ve ever ordered anything else so decided a few years ago to try making something similar at home. Their salad is simple; pear, blue cheese, and candied walnuts served over mixed greens. I don’t recall if the red onions were their idea or mine but no matter, they are a perfect complement both in taste and color. The dressing served with the salad at the cafe, while good, was their bottled Champagne vinaigrette. I decided to make something easy for myself and other home cooks to mix up from scratch and thought a maple syrup with Dijon dressing would be perfect.
I typically switch out Gorgonzola for Blue Cheese when I make this salad. I prefer the milder taste and more often have it on hand but the choice is yours. Though my original post had pecans in lieu of walnuts because they are what was available in my pantry, my latest effort included the original (and my favorite) nut. Guess you could say ‘sometimes I feel like a nut’ and the nut I’m feeling most like lately is walnut! As for that dressing? I mixed up a combination of my favorite ingredients including maple syrup and Dijon whole grain mustard. You like Honey Dijon? You’ll love Maple Dijon even more!
I’ve been working as a Brand Ambassador with Pure Canadian Maple Syrup and remember so clearly when I was lucky enough to receive some amazing maple syrup from my friend Paula who lives in Canada; to be asked to work with a product I just love was what I believe is the dictionary description of a ‘no brainer.’ That my neighbors also brought me a bottle from Canada as a gift for watching their dog when they were on vacation shows just how much people know my love for great maple syrup!
Interestingly enough if you shop Costco like I do, take a peek at their Kirkland brand syrup…yep, pure Canadian Maple Syrup. I admit, growing up in a family with six kids, all we ever had was a substitute. But once I discovered the real deal…there was no going back. Yes, it’s a bit pricier but so worth it. HuffPost Taste has a great article, ‘Why Maple Syrup Is So Damn Expensive (And So Delicious)‘ that puts it into some perspective. That it it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one single gallon of maple syrup is an eye opener! Ah…what I wouldn’t give for a gallon of this elixir of the Gods; a girl can dream right?
I like to use either Red Anjou or Red Bartlett Pears and eliminate the step of peeling them, their color brings a lot to this salad. Most of the pear is chopped but I also like to save a couple of slices to garnish the top; they are just so pretty!
The Maple Dijon dressing is the perfect combination of olive oil, whole grain Dijon mustard and maple syrup; it is so good I can see it being used for more than just than salad. I can’t wait to try it on some grilled salmon too. This salad is great year round but especially perfect this time of year when pears are coming into the market; trust me, it’s a keeper!
Pear, Walnut and Bleu Cheese Salad with Maple Dijon Dressing from Nordstrom’s Cafe
For the Maple Candied Walnuts or Pecans
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup pecan or walnut halves
For Maple Dijon Vinaigrette
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
- pepper to taste
For Nordstrom's Champagne Vinaigrette
- 1 tablespoon chopped shallot
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 cup Champagne wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups salad oil
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
For the Salad
- Mesclun greens, 4-6 cups
- 2 pears, chopped (toss with some lemon juice to keep them from discoloring if necessary)
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion rings, halved
- 1/3 cup crumbled Blue Cheese (or Gorgonzola)
- 2/3 cup Maple Candied Walnuts or Pecans (in a pinch or watching sugar intake, just toast some nuts), roughly chopped
- Pear slices for garnish
To Make Candied Walnuts:
- Melt the butter in a pan
- Mix in the maple syrup and pepper
- Add the pecans and toss to coat
- Cook on medium low heat about 15 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes. Watch carefully so they don't burn.
- Turn out on aluminum foil and let cool for 5 minutes; break apart if necessary.
To Make Either Dressing:
- Mix all ingredients in bowl using wire whisk.
To Plate the Salad:
- Place greens on individual plates. Sprinkle chopped pears, nuts and cheese on top of salad greens.Garnish with pear slices and drizzle dressing over salad.
My daughter worked for Nordstrom's for a couple of years in the Visual Merchandising Department after college. She asked and was given the recipe for the Champagne Vinaigrette so I've included that for you too if you're so inclined to make it at home!
I have been compensated for featuring Canadian Maple Syrup in this post however all commentary is my own.