Tart, sweet, and salty—Blueberry Gorgonzola Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
Blueberry Gorgonzola Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette comes together in a flash and scales up from a lovely lunch for yourself to a party dish easily. It’s a bit of a retro recipe at this point, but sometimes oldies are goodies indeed—this one is tasty. It’s got that perfect blend of tart, sweet, and salty that will have you making this salad all summer.
Summer corporate outings at the Crane Estate
How often do you remember a salad from a company event that you last ate seven or eight years ago? Back when I still worked in corporate, we often had summer outings on Steep Hill Beach at the Crane Estate in Ipswich, Massachusetts. The Crane Estate, known best for the stunning Crane Beach, is a popular event location, with sweeping vistas, lovely architecture, and, of course, the beaches. It was there that I first had a salad with blueberries and gorgonzola that’s the basis for today’s recipe.
Thank you, Burnham’s Clambake
Most years, the event was a New England clambake, catered by Burhman’s Clambake. Most people would tell you all about the lobster. I’m allergic to shellfish, so I’m waxing on about the salad. The contrast of sweet-tart blueberries and sharp, salty Gorgonzola, paired with a balsamic dressing, made for a more memorable side dish at a catered event.
I found myself missing it (and the Crane Estate), so I made myself a big old bowl of it. It was every bit as tasty as I remember it.
Shake that vinaigrette
If you’re a regular on this site, you’ve probably noticed that I love a good vinaigrette for a salad dressing. I love the pucker (I’m also a sucker for pickles, and I’m going to make some here one of these days), and I love how easily you can toss a good one together. While whisking is traditional, and something that I did for a long time, shaking up a vinaigrette is much simpler, and I think more surefire way to get the emulsification we need. Plus, you’re less likely to end up wearing olive oil this way.
Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette—a simple dressing
For this salad, we’re making a Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette (for the record, while I remember a balsamic vinaigrette for the salad at the clambakes, I don’t remember if it was sweet or not). I like maple syrup here, because it pairs nicely with the blueberries and gorgonzola, without taking over. I didn’t add shallots or Dijon, which I would ordinarily do for such a dressing, because there’s already a lot going on in the salad, so if you’re new to making dressing, it’s an easy one to start with.
Shake in stages
Building a vinaigrette involves getting air into the olive oil so that it will emulsify with the acid. So, we start with shaking olive oil in a jar until we see these little bubbles. For this one, we then add balsamic vinegar and shake it vigorously to combine (note that it will not stay combined if you make this ahead of time—simply shake it again before serving).
Experiment with seasoning
Then we add the seasoning, in this case, maple syrup and salt. I added the syrup first and shook it up, before adding the salt to taste and shaking it one last time. There’s cracked pepper in the salad, so I didn’t add any to the dressing. Experiment with the ratio of oil to acid to arrive at one you like. I tend to use more acid, as I like a tart vinaigrette, but you might prefer a different ratio.
Build the Blueberry Gorgonzola Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
Once you’ve made your dressing, it’s time to build the salad. This couldn’t be easier. Just add some handfuls of greens to a bowl (I used baby spinach and arugula, because I like the extra flavor, but use what you like). Then add the crumbled gorgonzola, pecan halves, dried cranberries (or cherries), and blueberries. Dress with the Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette, season with black pepper, and enjoy!
Blueberry Gorgonzola Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
For the Maple Balsamic Dressing (makes more than you need)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- kosher salt to taste
For the Blueberry Gorgonzola Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing
- 2 handfuls baby spinach and arugula
- 2 ounces gorgonzola, crumbled
- 2 tbsp pecan halves
- 2 tsp dried cranberries or dried cherries optional
- ⅔ cup blueberries
- cracked pepper to taste
- Maple Balsamic Dressing to taste
Make the Maple Balsamic Dressing
- Add the olive oil to a clean jar with lid. Close the lid and shake vigorously until you see little bubbles in the olive oil. Alternatively, you could use a bowl and a whisk¼ cup olive oil
- Add the balsamic vinegar and shake again.5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Add the maple syrup and shake again. Season with salt and give it another quick shake. Set aside until ready to use1 tbsp maple syrup, kosher salt
Make the Blueberry Gorgonzola Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
- In a bowl large enough to hold the entire salad, add the greens. Layer with the gorgonzola crumbles, pecan halves, dried cranberries, and blueberries. This can be done in advance2 handfuls baby spinach and arugula, 2 ounces gorgonzola, crumbled, 2 tbsp pecan halves, 2 tsp dried cranberries or dried cherries, ⅔ cup blueberries
- Add Maple Balsamic Dressing and season with cracked pepper as desired when ready to eat. Toss or serve as is. Enjoy!Maple Balsamic Dressing, cracked pepper
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