When the air turns crisp, you want a salad that reflects the season. This crisp Asian Pear Salad with Maple dressing is a delightful mix of flavors and textures. Candied pecans, Gorgonzola cheese, and mixed greens are topped with thin slices of Asian Pears and finished with orange zest and a delicious maple dressing.
It comes together quickly with just a couple of special touches that make this salad extra special.
All About Asian Pears
Asian pears are known for their crisp texture as opposed to the mellow and smooth flesh of other pears. (My post about pear jam has a rundown of the most commonly found pear varieties. Besides the texture of Asian pears, the flavor is both sweet and tart with floral notes. Because they bruise easily, these roundish medium brown fruits are often found with a white foam mesh around each fruit.
Store them in a cool place, and when ready to enjoy this wonderful fruit, simply cut the pear in half and remove the center seeds and core. These pears are the perfect highlight for this Asian pear salad with
Maple Syrup Grading
Maple syrup is made from the sap of maple trees. A change to the grading system came in 2015 because consumers didn’t understand the distinctions of A and B grades of syrups. Just like olive oil, there are different flavor and color profiles and it is your personal preference as to what tastes the best for what you are making.
Maple syrup is classified as one of four grades: golden, amber, dark and very dark. The rule of thumb is the darker the color of the syrup the stronger the maple flavor.
Golden = Delicate taste
This syrup has a light golden hue and sweet, delicate flavor. It’s great to drizzle over yogurt or baked goods.
Amber = Rich taste
This syrup has medium amber color and a nice rich taste which makes it the perfect sweet ingredient in a vinaigrette or served on a dessert
Dark = Robust taste
This caramel colored and flavored syrup is deep making it perfect to use in cooking and baking since it adds to the taste of many dishes.
Very Dark = Strong Taste
This syrup comes fro the sap harvested at the end of the sugaring-off season and it the richest and most distinctive of all the grades. The strong maple taste is perfect for sauces since it adds the distinctive maple note to the dish.
The simplest way to candy walnuts is to lightly toast them in a dry skillet and then glaze with sugar and salt. Learn how at Spinach Salad with Sweet Onion Dressing. When buying nuts, make sure to purchase nuts that are fresh and have been stored properly. The oils in nuts can go rancid so make sure to taste the nuts before using them in a dish. I like to purchase my nuts from the bulk bins as the grocery store.
1/4 pound of pecans equals 1 cups halves. I try to have a variety of nuts on hand, and I store nuts in the freezer if I don’t have an immediate plan for them.
Even if you don’t want to candy your pecans, toasting them in the oven or on the stove brings out the flavor.
To toast nuts in the oven:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the nuts in a single layer. Bake them in the a preheated 350°F oven for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Remove and transfer to a plate to stop the cooking process.
This is the best method to toast more than a cup of nuts.
To toast nuts on the stove:
In a medium skillet over medium-low heat, spread 1 cup or less of nuts in a single layer.
Toast for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the nuts to a plate when you begin to smell a nutty aroma to stop the cooking process.Print
This crisp Asian Pear Salad with Maple dressing is a delightful mix of flavors and textures. Candied pecans, Gorgonzola cheese, and mixed greens are topped with thin slices of Asian Pears and finished with orange zest and a delicious maple dressing.
- 2 Asian Pears
- 6 ounces mixed salad greens
- 1/2 cup pecan halves
- 1–1/2 tablespoons sugar
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons orange zest, (zest from 1 orange)
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot, about 1/2 small shallot
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon orange juice
- 1 tablespoon Maple syrup (your preferred grade, but a good quality syrup)
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Candy the pecans by stirring together the sugar and salt.
- In a small skillet over medium heat, add the pecans and toast for 2-3 minutes or until you begin to smell a nutty aroma, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
- Sprinkle the sugar mixture into the pan, stirring the nuts as you drizzle. Stir constantly until the pecans are thoroughly coated in the sugar mixture for about 30 seconds.
- Immediately remove the pan from the heat so the nuts don’t burn. Spread the candied pecans on a piece of parchment to cool. Once cooled, you can break the nuts apart if needed.
- In a small food processor, add the Maple dressing ingredients and pulse until the dressing has emulsified. (You may want to pulse it again right before adding the dressing to the salad.)
- Remove the cores from the Asian pears and slice into very thin wedges.
- In a salad bowl add the mixed salad greens and top with the Asian pear slices, Gorgonzola cheese crumbles, dried cranberries, candied pecans.
- Pour the maple dressing over the salad and toss gently to coat.
- Garnish with orange zest and serve.