Arugula, Pear, Gorgonzola Cheese And Candied Walnut Salad (a.k.a. Friendsgiving Salad)

I’ll just cut to the chase: This is the perfect salad to make for your holiday get-togethers.

I’ve made it two years in a row now for a Friendsgiving celebration (it was requested Year Two), hence its name. I lifted the candied walnut recipe from this delish sweet potato appetizer offering I discovered last year, and thought they would be an ideal addition to the salad. Good call, me!


I don’t have much else to say about this salad except that it’s good. Really, really good. The crunchy sweet/spicy walnuts pair so well with the pear, and then the gorgonzola cheese and red onion give it a wonderfully robust flavor. I made it again recently to share with my extended family at Thanksgiving, and it was a hit there as well. In fact, I’d like some again now.

Arugula, Pear, Gorgonzola Cheese, And Candied Walnut Salad (serves 4-6)

Ingredients (for candied walnuts)

  • 2 Tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 Tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Ingredients (for dressing)

  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (feel free to adjust based on your love for garlic!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Ingredients (for salad)

  • 7 ounces organic arugula (a full Trader Joe’s bag of arugula, for reference)
  • 1 pear, sliced thinly
  • 8 ounces crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly (use a mandolin if you have one!)

Directions (for candied walnuts)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Heat sugar, water, and cayenne pepper to boiling over medium heat in a medium-sized saucepan, stirring occasionally. Boil and stir 2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, and gently stir in walnuts until coated.
  • Spread nuts on prepared cookie sheet and bake 8-12 minutes, or until golden brown. (Watch carefully — these can burn quickly!)
  • Remove from cookie sheet and set aside to cool completely, then crumble to separate into small-ish pieces.

Directions (for dressing)

  • Place balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and garlic in a small bowl and whisk to dissolve sugar.
  • Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
  • Place dressing in jar with lid and shake well before dressing salad.

Directions (for salad)

  • Place arugula in large salad bowl, and top with cheese, candied walnuts, and red onion. Top with pear slices.
  • Just before serving, add dressing to the bowl and toss well to coat. Enjoy!

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