A Winter Salad – Spinach, Apple, Gorgonzola & Candied Walnuts

January 6, 2018 (Last Updated: May 22, 2020) by Emily

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A flavour packed Winter salad made with baby spinach, red apple, creamy Gorgonzola cheese and candied walnuts that are crunchy, sweet and spicy. This is a salad that’s sure to keep those winter blues far, far away with salty, streaky, smoked pancetta and little sprinkles of pomegranate.

A Winter salad…

A winter salad made with spinach, gorgonzola cheese, apple and candied walnuts

Needs cheese.

Oh yes, a creamy, silky smooth, blue cheese, no other than Gorgonzola.

The dressing for this salad is inspired by The Essentials Of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan.

Now this book, for anyone that loves Italian food is a must have and if you don’t have it then you need to run out and buy it asap. It goes into SO much depth and detail when it comes to Italian cooking and it will never leave my side, ever.

Now, I’ll be honest this gorgonzola dressing looks a bit odd but it tastes incredible!

And yes,  this salad isn’t Italian but it’s a mix of flavours that I love and it’s so worth making this winter.

A winter salad served on a large plate on a wooden surface

What makes a Perfect Winter Salad?

A good winter salad has to have a good balance of sweet and savoury flavours.

Colours of red and green should always be seen as far as I’m concerned and like any salad, it needs to be exciting and utterly delicious.

PLUS easy peasy to put together.

This Winter salad ticks all the boxes and makes taking down the Christmas tree that little bit more bearable *sniff sniff*.

How To Make A Winter Salad With Spinach, Apple, Gorgonzola & Candied Walnuts

First, make the candied walnuts. These babies are pretty hard to resist and make a pretty delicious and totally addictive snack all on their own.

Add butter, sugar, chilli flakes (red pepper flakes), paprika, pinch of salt and the walnut halves in a pan under a medium heat.

Let the butter and sugar melt and dissolve together for a couple of minutes, stir to coat the walnuts evenly then transfer them immediately to a sheet of baking paper. Separate the walnuts so they don’t stick together and set them aside.

step by step photos for making a winter salad dressing

Next, place the streaky bacon or pancetta under a hot grill and grill on both sides until crispy, drain on kitchen paper and set aside.

Winter Salad Dressing

Add the olive oil and vinegar to a bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper and whisk together until completely homogenized.

Add the Gorgonzola and mash it with a fork (I know what you’re thinking here but stick with me ok, it’s just cheese!)

Add the baby spinach and toss until it’s evenly coated in the dressing.

Assemble The Winter Salad

Divide the dressed spinach in serving bowls and top with equal amounts of apple, gorgonzola, pomegranate, walnuts and pancetta. Finish with a sprinkling of pepper and serve.

a close of a winter salad made with apple, spinach, pomegranate and gorgonzola

Top Tips for Making this Winter Salad

  • You can make the candied walnuts in advance and store them in a sealed container (also make extra for snacking on).
  • Bring the gorgonzola out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before making the dressing (the longer the better) so it’s easier to blend with the other ingredients.
  • Don’t worry if the dressing is lumpy if you prefer you can blitz it in a food processor or blender.
  • Any sweet red apple will work well and green apples will work well as a substitute as long as you go for a sweet one and not tart.

More Simple Salads To Try;

Let me know if you’ve tried this winter salad recipe or any other recipe on the blog then let me know how you got on in the comments below don’t forget to rate the recipe, I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, TWITTER (meh not my favourite), INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.

Step By Step Photos AboveMost of our recipes come with step by step photos, helpful tips and tricks to make it perfectly first time and even video!
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5 from 5 votes

A winter salad - spinach, apple, gorgonzola and candied walnuts

A flavour packed Winter salad made with baby spinach, red apple, creamy Gorgonzola cheese and candied walnuts.
Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 692kcal
Author Emily Kemp


  • 7 oz (200g) spinach
  • 1 red delicious apple thinly sliced
  • 4.5 oz (130g) gorgonzola at room temperature
  • 1/2 pomegranate , arils removed
  • 5.2 oz (150g) streaky bacon or pancetta strips (2 slices per person)
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup (80g) walnts halves
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes (red pepper flakes)
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 oz (30g) Butter
  • salt and pepper


  • Add the walnut halves, sugar, chilli flakes, paprika, pinch of salt and butter in a small pan. Let the sugar and butter melt together for a couple of minutes, stir to coat the walnuts, make sure the sugar doesn’t burn.
  • Transfer the walnuts straight away to a sheet of baking paper and separate the walnuts so they don’t stick together, set aside.
  • Place the bacon or pancetta under a hot grill and grill until crispy on each side, drain on kitchen paper.
  • To make the dressing put the olive and vinegar in a large mixing bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk together until homogenized. Add half the of gorgonzola and mash it with a fork until it’s mixed in with the rest of the dressing (there will be a few lumps but don’t be discouraged).
  • Add the spinach to the dressing, toss the spinach until it’s evenly coated in the dressing.
  • Divide the dressed spinach in serving bowls then top with equal amounts of apple, gorgonzola, pomegranate, bacon pieces and walnuts. Top with a grinding of pepper and serve.


  • Don't worry about the look of the dressing. it works.
  • The Gorgonzola must be at room temperature (very important).
  • Cut or tear the bacon or pancetta into smaller pieces before sprinkling over the salad.


Calories: 692kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 62g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 798mg | Potassium: 657mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 5270IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 247mg | Iron: 2mg
Helpful Info for All Recipes
  • I always use extra virgin olive oil in all of my recipes unless stated otherwise
  • When I use canned or jarred tomatoes of any kind I always use this brand for the best results and flavour
  • All vegetables are medium sized unless stated otherwise
  • All recipes are tested and developed using a fan (convection) oven
  • Find out more about how nutrition is calculated here
  • Check out our must have Italian Pantry Staples here
  • You can also find all our Essential Kitchen Tools for Italian Cooking here
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  • Reply
    January 19, 2021 at 9:55 am

    Do I put the walnuts in the oven on this baking sheet ?

  • Reply
    January 10, 2018 at 12:29 am

    Can dressing be made ahead

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      January 11, 2018 at 1:21 pm

      Hi Ann, the Gorgonzola needs to be a room temperature for the dressing and it probably wouldn’t work well if it was put back in the fridge. You could mix the rest of the dressing ingredients in advance then add the cheese when you’re ready to serve. Hope you enjoy!

  • Reply
    January 6, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    Beautiful salad! Looks so good!

  • Reply
    Veena Azmanov
    January 6, 2018 at 8:59 pm

    I love a good salad and I love adding fruits to my salad. This sounds so refreshing and light.5 stars

  • Reply
    January 6, 2018 at 8:00 pm

    I find the pictures useful on how you make the dressing with the blue cheese. Kind of reassuring. I think I would enjoy this quietly when nobody is around at home. =D5 stars

  • Reply
    January 6, 2018 at 7:29 pm

    Holy moly, this salad is beautiful! The textures and salty/sweet flavors sound incredible.5 stars

  • Reply
    January 6, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    This salad looks so delicious and perfect for dinner!5 stars

  • Reply
    January 6, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    That’s the most inviting winter salad I’ve ever seen.5 stars

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