This Pear Salad is a stellar combination of flavours reminiscent of your favourite cheeseboard: juicy pear with piquant pops of blue cheese, toasty walnuts and a Honey Mustard Dressing. Peppery rocket (arugula) is an ideal refreshing contrast to use as the leafy base.
This is an excellent salad option for a starter, or as a stylish side salad!
Pear Salad with Blue Cheese
This is a salad that’s all about classic and natural pairings, things we *always* see on cheeseboards. That’s because they just work so well together, yet you may not have thought about combining them in a salad. Combos like:
✓ Fruit and blue cheese
✓ Fruit and honey
✓ Fruit and nuts
✓ Cheese, honey and nuts (have I covered all combos there? 😂)
Oh, plus some leafy greens. This transforms our “cheese board” into a salad!
It’s a delicious way to use pears when they’re in season for something other than dessert (such as this Pear Pistachio Tart or this Pear Blue Cheese Slice). It’s also one that blue cheese lovers can get excited about! 🙋🏻♀️
What goes in Pear Salad with Blue Cheese
Here’s what goes into this Pear Salad:
I actually use 1 1/2 pears which for me is a nice amount for a whole package of rocket/arugula (standard size 120g / 4oz which is around 5 packed cups). If you want a more pear-forward salad, feel free to use more pears, it’s really up to you.
Best type of pears – Use any variety you want, as long as they’re ripe. I used Beurre Bosc pears (the ones with the cinnamon-coloured skin) which are fairly common and good value here in Australia when in season. Packham, Josephine, Corella Pears, even nashi pears – they all work.
Best to use one that is slightly creamy but still firm enough to be crumbled, like pictured. As a key ingredient in this salad, the better the cheese, the better the dish! Here are my favourites:
Roquefort – Made from sheep’s milk, this famous French cheese is creamy enough to be spreadable but firm enough to crumble. This is my favourite to use for most blue cheese salads. Other French blues I like to use: St Agur, Fourme d’Ambert, Bleu d’Auvergne. These are sold at most Harris Farms and some Woolies these days (Australia).
Gorgonzola – An Italian blue that ranges in texture based on variety, from ultra creamy to more crumbly. I like gorgonzola piccante (90 days aged, creamier, most rounded flavour), followed by the better value gorgonzola dolce (60 days aged, milder, and excellent value for money).
British Stilton – Slightly sharper than the above two, this cheese is not for the faint hearted! Try to get an aged one for a smoother flavour.
More options: Danish blue cheese is also a good option for a better value option. And for those who are new to blue cheese, Blue Castello is a good one to start with (the most mild, and good value). Australia also produces some excellent blues these days that are not hard to find like those from King Island.
Avoid blue cheese that is like brie (ie. too creamy to crumble on salad) or really firm and crumbly ones, which are too crumbly to stick to the salad ingredients (they just fall to bottom of bowl).
I think this peppery lettuce is ideal for this salad because the sharp flavour contrasts nicely with all the other tastes going on. A more neutral leafy green, like baby spinach, wouldn’t really bring anything to this dish in my view.
Walnuts is a classic choice for a blue cheese salad. Though actually, other nuts will work just as well like almonds, pecans, hazelnuts. I wouldn’t use peanuts (bit odd, I think?) or macadamia nuts (maybe too rich with blue cheese).
Honey Mustard Dressing for Pear Salad
I opted for a Honey Mustard Dressing here because honey with pears, walnuts and cheese is a classic pairing. Sweet, savoury, nutty, creamy, juicy – it pushes all the right buttons!
Honey – For the flavour, sweetness and to thicken the dressing.
Dijon mustard – Also to help thicken and emulsify the dressing while adding a touch of tang and flavour.
Cider vinegar – The main tanginess in the dressing. Any mild(ish) vinegar will work in its place – white wine vinegar, champagne or sherry vinegar,
Extra virgin olive oil (or ordinary olive oil) – The better the oil, the better the dressing! If you have flavoured nut oils like hazelnut or walnut oil, they’d also be wonderful to use instead here.
What to serve with Pear Salad
As a starter
This is a salad that’s ideal for serving as a starter. Never underestimate the power of a good salad as a starter! If it’s interesting enough like this and has a bit of wow factor, it sets a great tone for the rest of the meal.
As a meal, serve it with a side of home-made bread if you would like to a light but satisfying meal:
As a side salad
As a side salad, because the blue cheese makes it quite rich (even though each serving only as a little crumble) try to serve it with something that doesn’t have an overwhelmingly strong sauce. Otherwise, you’ll just have too many flavours competing on your plate – and we want this salad to shine!
Here are some suggestions:
Roast chicken – A beautiful classic roast chicken served with the herb-garlic-butter pan juices
Crispy Herb Roast Chicken pieces – This is a family favourite to make in big batches
Enjoy! – Nagi x
PS No video today as it’s a “easy salad day” where I’m sharing 3 fairly straight forward recipes (this salad, Roasted Large Mushrooms with Green Onion Thyme Butter and Chargrill Charlie’s Copycat Japanese Slaw). But if you really want a video for this one, just leave a comment below and I’ll do it when I get a chance!
Pear Salad with Blue Cheese and Rocket
- 1 1/2 – 2 pears , any type, juicy and ripe (or nashi pears or sweet apples)
- 3/4 cup walnuts , whole (sub almonds, pecans)
- 120g / 4oz rocket/arugula lettuce
- 120g / 4 oz roquefort, gorgonzola, stilton or other good blue cheese, creamy but can be crumbled into chunks (Note 1)
Honey Mustard Dressing:
- 1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 tbsp honey
- 1 1/2 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- Dressing: Shake Dressing in a jar.
- Pears: Halve then scoop out core. Place cut face down and slice into 3mm / 0.12" slices. (Note 2)
- Walnuts: Spread on tray and toast in a 180°C/350°F oven for 8 minutes or until they smell nutty. Leave some whole, break some in half with hands.
- Dress rocket: In a large bowl, toss rocket with 2 tbsp Dressing.
- Assemble: Pile 1/3 rocket on a platter. Scatter with 1/3 pears, 1/3 walnuts, 1/3 blue cheese crumbled into small chunks. Repeat twice more. Drizzle with remaining Dressing just before serving.
Life of Dozer
Dozer, the warm glow of sunset is flattering on you! If only your snout wasn’t covered in slobber splatters and you didn’t have a speck of eye snot on your cheek…… 😝