This Classic Tossed Salad is made with crisp red lettuce, tomato wedges, candied pecans and Gorgonzola (Blue Cheese) and dressed with a homemade French Dijon and Garlic Vinaigrette.
Many times, I’ve found myself wanting a fancy salad but with all the fuss and muss. I’m a fan of salads with a variety of flavors, but hadn’t settled on just one version, until I made this Classic Tossed Salad with Candied Pecans and Blue Cheese—or to be more exact: Gorgonzola.
From the crisp lettuce to the rich smooth flavor of the blue cheese to the amazing crunch of the candied pecans. All together you have yourself a salad that doesn’t fail to impress diners.
Tossed Salad Ingredients Overview
I’ve tasted a lot of chopped salads lately and love them immensely, but sometimes I like to go back to the tried and true of a good ole tossed salad.
That’s how my mom made it effortlessly time and time again. So I took her lead and decided to embellish this recipe with a couple of twists of my own.
Back in the day in the midwest, You really couldn’t find candied pecans or blue cheese. You might have heard of it but it wasn’t readily available as it is today. And, besides that, tastes were not craving layers of flavor. Many folks preferred food simplified and that was that.
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Well, for me that won’t cut butter, so to speak. I’ve traveled enough to know that you can have your lettuce salad and specialty cheese and nuts, too. Thus, this salad.
Even so, I’m all for changing up recipes to suit the ingredients found in my pantry and fridge, so experiment at will. Below, I’ve broken out the ingredients for making this salad, along with variations I feel applicable for each one.
If you were to ask me what my favorite lettuce is, I couldn’t tell you. I love a variety of lettuce types but if I were to settle on one lettuce that offers a nice crunch, healthy greens, and pretty to look at—well, that would have to be red lettuce.
If you don’t have red lettuce, use what you have on hand. I’ve made this recipe with Boston Lettuce (butter lettuce), Romaine, chopped Radicchio, and even Iceberg Lettuce (think wedge version).
When you contrast the deep green and burgundy of the red lettuce with the brilliance of red onions, well it’s certainly eye candy for the culinary soul.
But more importantly, I love the bite red onion gives to this salad. Sure you could use Vadalia or even a Spanish onion for this recipe, just know that it will give you a different flavor—which isn’t bad in itself—just different.
Whenever I can get my hands on heirloom tomatoes I grab them lickety-split. The rich tomatoey taste can’t be beat. But if that isn’t possible, I’ll settle for organic tomatoes—the ones off the vine which seemingly taste more like the real deal more often than not.
And, if you want to change up this recipe, try Romas, cherry tomatoes or even beefsteak tomatoes, sliced in wedges or chunks. All will do well with this salad.
Sugared or Glazed Pecans
In my grocery, I spied a jar of the most wonderful candied pecans from Treat, which is made in Madison, Wisconsin. Some folks, however, call them glazed pecans, either way, they have a sweet coating that is so tasty and perfect when pared with the bite of red lettuce and red onions, and of course, Gorgonzola.
Could you use candied walnuts? Of course. Candied walnuts offer a deeper, nuttier flavor than pecans, and if you do use these, be sure to throw in a handful of dried cranberries too for added layers of flavor. My favorite dried cranberries is Wisconsin’s own Honestly Cranberry which are dried with “no added sugars, juices or oils.” (Def something to try—just saying.)
Blue Cheese or Gorgonzola
The secret ingredient for this recipe has to be Gorgonzola. I chose this cheese because of its rich and creamy texture and not too overpowering blue cheesiness.
If you are not fond of Gorgonzola, then try these other blue cheeses: Rochefort, Stilton, or classic Blue Cheese. Or you can also use chunks of asiago or Parmesan Reggiano.
Layer your lettuce in a large salad bowl.
Then follow this with sliced organic tomatoes, wisps of red onion and bits of candied pecans. At this point, I like to break off pieces of Gorgonzola and sprinkle this generously over the top of the salad.
Finally, I like to dress this salad lightly upon serving with a creamy French Dijon and Garlic Vinaigrette.
I hope you’ll love this salad for its simpleness and versatility, as well as it’s suited for both formal or informal dining. Enjoy!
For more delicious summer salad recipes, be sure to check out Wisconsin Homemaker’s Recipe Section.
Classic Tossed Salad with Pecans and Blue Cheese
For the Salad:
- 4 cups red lettuce torn into bite-size pieces
- 2 tomatoes cut into wedges
- 1 cup cucumbers sliced
- 1/2 small red onion sliced
- 1 cup candied glazed pecans broken into small pieces
- 2/3 cups gorgonzola crumbles
- 5 slices prosciutto lightly fried, broken into pieces
For the Dressing:
- French Dijon and Garlic Vinaigrette https://wisconsinhomemaker.com/french-dijon-and-garlic-vinaigrette/
For the Dressing:
- In a small bowl mix the French Dijon and Garlic Vinaigrette (See Recipe Link in Notes)
For the Salad:
- In a large salad bowl, layer first with lettuce, then tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, pecans, Gorgonzola and prosciutto. Drizzle with salad dressing and toss well. Serve and Enjoy!