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On my endless quest to make salads as exciting as the rest of the meal, Arugula Apple Salad is a fresh take on the Arugula Salad that's been a staple in our house for years. This version contrasts the frilly, peppery, deep-green leaves with crisp apple slices, creamy goat cheese, and buttery pecans with a sweet, tangy dressing that pulls it all together.
Somehow a salad with just a few well-paired ingredients amounts to far more than the sum of its parts. It's what makes salads so fun and satisfying to create.
Ingredients You need to Make Arugula Apple Salad
- Baby Arugula: Ideally pre-washed and dried.
- Olive Oil: Good, extra-virgin olive oil.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Ideally raw and unfiltered for the best flavor.
- Honey: Maple syrup would also be delicious.
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper:
- Apple: Any crunchy, sweet or tart variety.
- Goat Cheese: Feta is an option for those who don't care for goat cheese.
- Pecans: Walnuts would also work well.
But even with well paired ingredients, a successful salad needs a balanced dressing to round it out. Here, sweet honey softens apple cider vinegar's acidity to enhance instead of overpower the other ingredient flavors, both bold and subtle.
Plating is important too. Tender baby arugula tossed with half of the dressing creates the base for this salad, ideally spread across a serving platter. You'll hand tuck the apple slices into the arugula instead of tossing them in, this way they're visible, well distributed, and won't all end up on the bottom of the bowl or platter. After you drizzle on the remaining dressing, you'll shower with crumbled, creamy goat cheese and chopped pecans. Then your beautiful salad is ready to serve.
Like me, you may enjoy adding your own twist to salad recipes. Here are a few suggestions:
- Swap in crumbled feta cheese, blue cheese, or gorgonzola.
- Use maple syrup in place of honey.
- Instead of pecans, use walnuts or hazelnuts.
- Add another layer of flavor and texture with dried cranberries or dried cherries.
- Swap in white wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar for some or all of the apple cider vinegar.
What to Serve with Arugula Apple Salad
- Bacon Wrapped Pork Chops (Juicy flavorful pork chops wrapped in crispy bacon made entirely in the oven!)
- Pan-Fried Lamb Chops (Dinner party special and made in minutes on your stove top.)
- Chicken Kabobs in the Oven (These are always a crowd pleaser.)
How to Make Arugula Apple Salad
Step 1: Whisk together salad dressing ingredients until emulsified (olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, kosher salt and black pepper).
Step 2: Toss arugula with half of the dressing and arrange on a platter. Tuck apple slices into dressed arugula so they are well distributed. Drizzle salad with remaining dressing an top with crumbled goat cheese and pecans. Serve.
Arugula Apple Salad
- 5 ounces baby arugula
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 small apple your favorite variety, cored and thinly sliced
- 2 ounces soft goat cheese crumbled
- 1 ounce pecans toasted if desired and coarsely chopped, see recipe note #1
- Place arugula in a large bowl.
- Whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and honey in a small bowl until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle ½ of dressing over arugula and gently toss to coat.
- Transfer salad to serving platter if desired and tuck apple slices into dressed arugula so they're visible and well distributed. Drizzle salad and apple slices with remaining dressing. Scatter goat cheese and pecans over and serve.
- If you prefer toasted pecans: Place a small dry skillet over medium heat until hot. Add pecans; cook and stir 4 to 5 minutes until nuts are fragrant and lightly golden. Transfer to a small bowl to cool. (Don't leave the nuts in the hot skillet to cool as they burn easily.) Coarsely chop once they're cool enough to handle.
- Tucking apple slices into dressed arugula instead of tossing them in keeps them from ending up at the bottom of the salad.