Juicy pears are roasted with bourbon and brown sugar then combined with leafy greens, blue cheese and sweet, crunchy candied walnuts for the most memorable salad ever. Bourbon Roasted Pear Salad with Gorgonzola and Candied Walnuts is dressed with a light and tangy apple cider vinaigrette, perfect for the holiday season.
I’m not a big salad eater. I want to be…I want to be that person that cooly shuns a big, juicy burger blanketed with melty cheese on a big, soft bun for a bowl of raw veggies. I do…I really do…but I like big flavor. I like to take a bite of my breakfast, lunch and dinner…and hear my tastebuds sing. Not me…I won’t sing, so don’t worry if you’re eating with me…I won’t burst out into song. Especially if I order a salad.
I’ve had a lot of salads in my attempt to be that ultra svelte health nut that fits into a size triple 0 and can’t even pinch an inch. And each time I’ve ordered a salad I ended up sad, sulky and craved a burger. Which is a double whammy because then I go eat a burger like an hour later and it defeats the purpose of eating a healthy salad in the first place. But this ONE time….I ordered the Pear and Gorgonzola Salad at Neiman Marcus and it was simply amazing. AMAZING. I still think about that salad with soft, roasted pears and creamy gorgonzola. It was dressed with a light vinaigrette which was tangy and a bit citrusy. It was the first time in my entire life that I craved a salad.
I went back several times to kill my salad craving, which is hilarious to write those words “kill my salad craving”. Then, one day….it was no longer on the menu. Ok…so, I wasn’t that sad because I just went back to my usual lunch of burgers, grilled cheese or something equally cheesy…but I did, still, crave that salad. So, like usual, I took matters into my own hands and whipped up an even better version of the Neiman Marcus salad with this Bourbon Roasted Pear and Gorgonzola Salad. See how that works out? I roasted some Harry and David Royal Riviera® pears with brown sugar and bourbon because bourbon makes everything epically better. Then I tossed them with some standard greens that, seriously, I could do without but it’s a salad so I threw them in there just because they are a required element of a salad. I topped the whole thing with creamy gorgonzola, pomegranate seeds and THESE candied walnuts. And to make it even more memorable, I whipped up an easy Apple Cider Vinaigrette.
This Bourbon Roasted Pear Salad with Gorgonzola and Candied Walnuts would be the perfect start to any holiday feast. It’s pretty large so it’s great to feed a crowd as a first course. But in all honesty, my husband and I polished off the entire thing….we didn’t even get out own plates, we just ate out of the salad bowl because that’s what true love is all about. 🙂 The salad would also be a great lunch with this Baked Tomato Bisque and maybe a few of these Bellinis. And then, possibly, a nap.
Bourbon Roasted Pear Salad with Gorgonzola and Candied Walnuts
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 Royal Riviera Pears, cut in half and cored (You can use Bosc or Bartlett pears, as well)
- kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoons bourbon
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 16 ounces spring mix
- 1 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
- 1 cup candied walnuts
- 3/4 cup pomegranate arils
For the dressing
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup apple cider
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
- 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium/high heat. Season the cut side of the pears with salt and pepper. Place the pears in the skillet cut side down and cook for about 2 minutes or until they are browned. Sprinkle the pears with the brown sugar and add the bourbon to the pan to deglaze. Turn the pears over and transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast the pears for about 10 minutes or until the pears are soft enough to pierce easily with a fork. Transfer the pears to a plate until cool enough to handle. The pears can be made up to 24 hours in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
- Cut the pears in half again (so, the whole pear is now quartered.) Place the greens in a large salad bowl. Top the greens with the pears, gorgonzola, walnuts and pomegranate.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, apple cider, garlic, shallot, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil until thoroughly combined. Top the salad with 1/2 the dressing and serve immediately with the remaining dressing on the side.