Apple Gorgonzola Salad is a perfect fall salad, ideal for lunch, dinner or side. It combines crisp apples, peppery arugula, toasted walnuts, rich gorgonzola cheese, sliced red onions, and a touch of sweet cranberries. Each bite offers a mix of textures and flavors that's simply delicious.
It's apple picking season in Maine which is a wonderful opportunity to incorporate the abundance on apples in sweet and savory recipes! Apple pie with vanilla ice cream is a seasonal staple but if you feel like trying something new, make this easy Apple Strawberry Crisp for dessert or my Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal which is a fantastic fall breakfast recipe.
Today I'm sharing a recipe for one of my favorite salads using apples - Apple Gorgoznola Salad. You don't need fancy cooking skills to make this simple and delicous salad, yet it tastes like something you'd get at a top-notch restaurant. This salad is filled with sweet, crunchy apples, juicy dried cranberries, flavorful gorgonzola cheese, and toasted walnuts. Picture all those delicious flavors coming together in every mouthful!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Apples: I used Pink Lady apples because they are firm and their taste is a perfect combination of sweet and tart. Granny Smiths or Honeycrisp will also be a fine choice.
- Arugula: I use baby arugula but other baby greens such as baby spinach or spring mix will also work
- Gorgonzola Cheese: tangy gorgonzola or other type of blue cheese, goat cheese or even feta cheese are all a great addition to this salad
- Dried Cranberries: I use reduced sugar dried cranberries from Ocean Spray. Most grocery stores carry them.
- Walnuts: make sure your walnuts are fresh. I store my walnuts in the freezer to prevent them from turning rancid and bitter. If you like candied walnuts, you can use them in this salad instead of regular toasted nuts. Pecans will also work.
- Red Onion: to add some spiciness and tang to the salad - see instructions below on how to mellow out the harsh onion flavor by soaking it in cold water.
Apple Cider Salad Dressing Ingredients
To make the dressing you will need:
- Olive Oil - extra virgin olive oil is best
- Apple Cider Vinegar - I use the raw unfiltered version such as Bragg
- Dijon Mustard
- Maple Surup - or honey
- Salt and Pepper
How to make Apple Gorgonzola Salad
STEP 1: Toast the walnuts by placing them in a small skiller over medium low heat. Toss or stir the walnuts often for a few minutes until browned. Be careful not to burn them. Take off the heat, transfer to a plate or a bowl and set aside to bring to room temperature.
STEP 2: Place sliced red onions in a small bowl. Pour cold water just to cover the onions and let them soak for 10-15 minutes (Image 1). Then drain on a sieve.
Note: Soaking onions in cold water helps to reduce their sharp, pungent taste. The cold water dilutes and washes away some of the compounds responsible for the strong onion flavor, particularly sulfur compounds that can make onions taste spicy or overly intense.
STEP 3: Quater the apples, remove cores and slice each quarter into 4-5 pieces (Image 2).
STEP 4: Make the dressing. Place olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk vigorously until smooth (Images 3 & 4). Set aside.
STEP 4: Assemble the salad. Place argula in a medium or large bowl. Add apples cut into thin slices, gorgonzola cheese and soaked and drained red onions (Images 5 & 6).
STEP 5: Add dreid cranberries and toasted walnuts. Dress with ⅔ of the dressing and toss to coat. If you like more dressing, add the remaining ⅓ and toss again.
STEP 6: Serve immediately and enjoy.
Tips for storing leftover salad
Storing leftover salad can be tricky. Here are my best tips for success:
- Use Airtight Containers: Choose airtight containers that are appropriate in size for the amount of leftover salad you have. Airtight containers help seal in freshness and prevent moisture from escaping.
- Store in the Fridge: Refrigerate the salad as soon as possible after your meal. The refrigerator's cool temperature will slow down the wilting and spoilage of the salad. Store it on the middle shelf, where the temperature is most consistent.
- Keep Dressing Separate: If you plan to eat the salad over multiple days, store the dressing separately in a small container. Add the dressing just before serving to maintain the salad's crispness.
If the salad is already dressed, place leftovers in the fridge (covered with plastic wrap or trasfer to an airtight container) and cosume within a day.
What to serve it with
This Apple Salad makes a great addition to family dinners, gatherings and all your holiday festivities! It will go well with Brined Chicken Wings, Chicken Stuffed with Feta and Spinach, meat kebabs such as these easy Air Fryer Chicken Kabobs or Pork Kebabs.
It's also a perfect side for virtually everything that lands on your table, from Pork Bolognese, to Tuna Pesto Pasta to Tuna Stuffed Zucchini. It goes especially well with fall soups such as Butternut Squash Carrot Ginger Soup, Roasted Pumpkin and Cauliflower Soup or Bone Broth Chicken Soup.
More recipe tips
Customize Your Dressing: Dressing preferences can vary, with some folks favoring tangier flavors and others opting for a sweeter touch. To cater to different tastes, start with one teaspoon of maple sugar and add more, a teaspoon at a time, if desired. For a tangier dressing, consider adding and extra tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
Prep Ahead for Convenience: You can definitely prep some or all of the salad ingredients in advance. You can make the dressing, toast the walnuts, and prepare the red onions a day before. This means all that's left to do is slice the apples, making for a hassle-free side dish that doesn't require cooking time.
Tame the Red Onion: If you find red onions too strong, I recommend a quick soak to mellow their bite. Simply place the red onion in a fine mesh sieve, submerge the sieve in a large bowl of water for 10 minutes. After this brief soak, remove the sieve and thoroughly pat the onions dry with a paper towel.
Customize: the beauty of salads is that you can ajust the amount of ingredients to suit your tastes and preferences. If you like gorgoznola but find its flavor overwhelming, cut the cheese amount by half. Not a fan of onions? Skip them altogether. Do the same with all the other ingredients to make the salad your own.
This salad is featured in the list of 25 Best Thanksgiving Side Dishes to Impress along with more delicious recipe ideas to try.
Sure! Tangy balsamic vinaigrette, Italian vinaigrette or this simple homemade Greek salad dressing will all work well on this salad. Though I love homemade salad dressing, if you don't have time to make your own, good quality store bought dressing will do just fine.
The best apples for salads are sweet, firm and crisp, such as Pink Lady (that's what I used), Fuji, Honeycrisp or Granny Smith apples.
If you don't have any cranberries on hand, swap them for dried tart cherries, sliced dried apricots, dried blueberries or fresh pomegranate seeds.
Gorgonzola cheese often has a creamier and more spreadable texture compared to certain crumbly or firmer varieties of blue cheese. It also generally has a milder flavor than other types of blue cheese.
Absolutely! Cooked cubed chicken or tofu will work best.
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Apple Gorgonzola Salad
- 2 apples, small or one large apple
- 4 cups arugula
- ½ cup walnuts
- ½ cup gorgonzola crumbled
- 3 tablespoon red onion sliced thin
- 3 tablespoon dried cranberries
Apple Cider Salad Dressing
- ¼ cup olive oil extra virgin
- 3 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper freshly cracked
- Toast the walnuts by placing them in a small skiller over medium low heat. Toss or stir the walnuts often for a few minutes until browned. Be careful not to burn them. Take off the heat, transfer to a plate or a bowl and set aside.
- Place sliced red onions in a small bowl. Pour cold water just to cover the onions and let them soak for 10-15 minutes. Then drain on a sieve.
- Make the dressing. Place olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk vigorously until smooth. Set aside.
- Assemble the salad. Place argula in a medium bowl. Add sliced apples, toasted walnuts, dried cranberries, gorgonzola cheese, soaked and drained red onions.
- Dress with ⅔ of the dressing and toss to coat. If you like more dressing, add the remaining ⅓ and toss again.
- Serve immediately and enjoy.