This apple gorgonzola spinach salad is a combination of baby spinach, butter toffee pecans, sliced granny smith apples, crumbled gorgonzola cheese, and dried cranberries mixed with a homemade dried herb vinaigrette. Serve alongside lasagna or ricotta and sausage-baked ziti.
Why This Works
This recipe is a blend of crunchy, sweet, salty, and fresh all mixed together in a delicious salad form. It kind of reminds me of upscale dining but from my kitchen table. Anytime I have guests over and want that "wow" factor, I serve this salad.
- Baby spinach: Use pre-washed baby spinach leaves. It cuts down the time to clean and dry the spinach.
- Gorgonzola cheese: This is my favorite choice for this salad with blue cheese a close second choice. Gorgonzola can be purchased as crumbles or a block of cheese. Crumble the cheese prior to adding it to the salad.
- Granny Smith apple: I like using a Granny Smith apple because of its tart flavor.
- Dried cranberries: I prefer using dried cranberries that don't contain any added sugar.
- Butter toffee pecans: This is a star ingredient for this recipe. Either purchase pre-made butter toffee pecans or make them yourself. This candied pecan recipe is similar to how store-bought toffee pecans taste.
- Dijon mustard: I like the little bit of heat from Dijon mustard, however, any type of mustard will work.
- Dried Italian herbs: I like the variety of dried herbs, however, dried or fresh oregano is an excellent substitute.
See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for quantities.
How To Make Apple Gorgonzola Spinach Salad
Wash and slice the granny smith apple. In a large bowl, measure out the baby spinach leaves, dried cranberries, gorgonzola cheese, and butter toffee pecans.
In a separate small bowl, add the red wine vinegar, dried Italian herbs, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Mix well until the mustard is fully dissolved into the red wine vinegar. Add the olive oil at the end.
Hint: If you have a salad dressing shaker bottle or jar with a lid, add all of the salad ingredients together and shake well until blended.
Hint: Keep the salad dressing and dry salad separated until ready to serve.
Mix all of the ingredients together. Once the baby spinach leaves are coated in the vinegar olive oil dressing, they will reduce in size. Add extra spinach if desired.
After mixing the salad dressing, the spinach salad is ready to eat.
Tips and Tricks
The biggest tip for a successful salad is not to mix the dressing until you are ready to eat it. Baby spinach leaves wilt reducing in volume and the crunchy parts of the salad become soggy.
Variations and Substitutions
- Substitute blue cheese for gorgonzola cheese. Crumble the cheese into equal-sized chunks.
- Use spring mix instead of baby spinach leaves. I recommend using pre-washed store-bought spring mix.
- Substitute balsamic vinegar for red wine vinegar. Measure equal parts balsamic vinegar for red wine vinegar.
- Add fresh oregano instead of using dried Italian herbs. I recommend using twice the amount of fresh herbs if substituting for dried herbs.
Slice the granny smith apple with a chef's knife and cutting board. Measure out the ingredients using measuring cups. Place the salad ingredients into a large salad bowl.
Shake the herb vinaigrette in a salad dressing shaker. Mix the salad with two large salad spoons.
Store the apple gorgonzola spinach salad separately from the olive oil vinegar salad dressing until it's ready to eat. Place this salad in the fridge up to 1 day in advance (keeping the dressing separate). The granny smith apples might discolor slightly if made ahead of time.
Store the salad dressing in the fridge for up to 4 days. The olive oil will solidify in the fridge, so allow the dressing to reach room temperature prior to mixing into the salad.
Yes, baby and full-grown spinach leaves can be consumed raw.
Depending on how spinach is prepared, it can go with a lot of things. Spinach can be served as a salad ingredient, in a smoothie, or made into spinach stew.
If using baby spinach leaves, there's no need to cut up the spinach leaves.
Join The Tribe
Apple Gorgonzola Spinach Salad With Candied Pecans
Apple Gorgonzola Spinach Salad
- 8 cups baby spinach** see note 4
- 1 cup granny smith apple sliced thin
- 1 cup toffee pecans** see note 1
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup gorgonzola cheese** see note 2
Vinegar Salad Dressing
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs** see note 3
- ¼ teaspoon Himalayan salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Wash and slice the granny smith apple.
- In a large bowl, measure out the baby spinach leaves, dried cranberries, toffee pecans, granny smith apple, and gorgonzola cheese. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, add the red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, dried Italian herbs, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Once the dijon mustard has blended into the vinegar, add the olive oil. Mix well.
- Mix the vinegar olive oil salad dressing just before serving the salad
- Brown sugar pecans, spiced caramel pecans, or caramel pecans are acceptable substitutes.
- Substitute equal parts blue cheese for gorgonzola.
- Use equal parts dried oregano for dried Italian herbs.
- 8 cups of baby spinach seem like a lot, however, once the dressing is added the spinach will reduce in size.