Gorgonzola Pecan Crunch Salad with Hazelnut Vinaigrette is the perfect salad for any occasion. My favorite feature of this salad is the caramelized pecans, which are a tiny bit spicy from the light sprinkle of cayenne!
I’ve been making this salad for years and it never fails me. Always the perfect side salad or even main dish salad! It is made with greens, grapes, pecans, bacon (optional) and a bit of gorgonzola cheese, so the ingredients are accessible any time of the year. The dressing is light and a bit sweet, so it appeals to most palates. I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t love this salad!
The Gorgonzola cheese in this salad sets it apart from most other greens and fruit salads. Gorgonzola is similar to Bleu Cheese. It is a soft, almost creamy cheese. The greenish-blue penicillium mold is found throughout the cheese and gives the cheese its sharp flavor. Gorgonzola originally came from Italy and was brought to the US from Italian immigrants. It has a distinct aroma as well as flavor. In comparison to Bleu or Blue cheese, Gorgonzola is usually a bit softer and more mild in flavor.
I am a fan of this salad for so many reasons. It is so simple, but loaded with delicious flavors. Gorgonzola Pecan Crunch Salad can be prepared ahead of time and assembled just before serving. Keep everything in separate containers in the fridge (except pecans) and toss with dressing before eating.
I’m all about simple, delicious, make-ahead recipes. This salad is ideal for holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Make ahead, set in the fridge, then pull out to do a quick assembly just before serving. It’s a unique salad so you are sure to be the only one bringing this to a dinner party. I also love a salad that pairs well with poultry, beef or fish!
This Gorgonzola Pecan Crunch Salad with Hazelnut Vinaigrette has sweet, salty, sharp, creamy, and crunchy textures and flavors combined together. When I first experimented with this recipe I added grapes and bacon and loved what they brought to the salad.
Pro tip for beautiful salad assembly: save some of the chopped bacon, grapes and Gorgonzola to crumble on top of the salad after it has been tossed with the dressing. It gives a nice finished look to your dish and lets guests know what is inside of the salad as well!
Gorgonzola Pecan Crunch Salad was originally posted in 2008, updated with new content and photos in 2021.
Gorgonzola Pecan Crunch Salad with Hazelnut Vinaigrette
- 7 cups lettuce or mixed greens I like red leaf lettuce best
- 6-8 oz Gorgonzola cheese crumbled
- 3/4 lb. bacon (optional but highly recommended) cooked until crisp, chopped
- 1/2 lb. seedless red grapes
Pecan Crunch: (I always double this!)
- 2/3 cups pecans chopped coarse
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup orange juice*
- 1/4 cup hazelnut oil*
- 1/4 cup light olive oil
Wash and dry the lettuce. Combine with chopped bacon and grapes in large bowl. Chill.
Combine pecans with butter, sugar, salt, pepper and cayenne in non stick pan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar caramelizes and pecans are well coated. Stir often. Pour onto a lightly greased sheet of foil. Let cool completely. Break up pieces by hand or chop on cutting board.
Combine all of the dressing ingredients in bowl or jar and whisk until well blended. Refrigerate leftover dressing.
- Usually, about half of this dressing is enough for one salad.
- If you are unable to find hazelnut oil, or can’t afford it (it’s about $6 for an 8 oz bottle) you may substitute 1/2 cup canola oil and omit the hazelnut and olive oils. When I make this in large quantities-50 servings or more, I always substitute and use Canola oil.
- I’ve found the best way to make this dressing is to purchase frozen orange juice concentrate. Thaw about 2 tablespoons in 1/4 cup of water. Stir and use in dressing. The concentrate mixed with a little water gives the dressing a great flavor!