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...
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.
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*.
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How to make this 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.
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.
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.
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
- Arugula Salad with lemon and Parmesan
- Sicilian Fennel and Orange Salad
- Italian Tuna Potato Salad
- Zucchini ribbon salad
- Watermelon basil salad with mint and goats cheese
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, Instagram and Pinterest to see more delicious food and what I'm getting up to.
A winter salad - spinach, apple, gorgonzola and candied walnuts
- 7 oz (200g) spinach
- 1 red delicious apple thinly sliced
- 4.5 oz (130g) gorgonzola at room temperature
- ½ pomegranate , arils removed
- 5.2 oz (150g) streaky bacon or pancetta strips (2 slices per person)
- 5 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 cup (80g) walnts halves
- 3 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon chilli flakes (red pepper flakes)
- ¼ teaspoon 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.
- 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 Cirio or Mutti brands 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.
- Check out our must have Italian Pantry Staples.
- You can also find all our Essential Kitchen Tools for Italian Cooking.