Salads are kind of my thing. Seriously. I could literally eat salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner and I actually do on some lucky days. I don’t know if it’s the insanely delicious mix of textures – crisp greens, creamy cheese and the crunchy fruit, veg, or nut of your choice – but salads check all the flavor boxes for me and I love it.
This arugula salad is the perfect blend of flavors — salty blue cheese, sweet caramelized pecans, crunchy apples, a tart lemony vinaigrette and my favorite salad green (at least this week), arugula. Its peppery bite is a standout in a world of bland salad greens. (I’m looking at you, iceberg.)
While I absolutely adore this salad just as it is, it allows lots of opportunities for substitutions or alterations. I love arugula, but if you prefer a milder green a spring mix or green leaf lettuce will do the trick. No apples on hand? Not to worry, grab a pear or thinly slice a peach or nectarine instead.
The one thing I won’t replace, no matter what are the caramelized nuts. Pecans are my favorite nut for just about anything, but swapping them out for caramelized walnuts is just as delicious. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to whip up a batch of caramelized nuts! Make a batch and store them in an airtight container. They’re a tasty addition to salad and you can also add them to a cheeseboard, or just enjoy them as a snack. If you like a little spice in your caramelized nut game, add a pinch or two of cayenne pepper into the pan with the brown sugar and vinegar.
Next time you get a hankering for an out of this world salad, add this one to your rotation. I promise it won’t disappoint!
Rinse arugula in cold water then pat or spin until completely dry to avoid soggy salad syndrome!
Slice the apples just before serving your salad to keep them from oxidizing (turning brown).
Making a vinaigrette
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 ½ cups pecans halves
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon chopped shallots
- ¼ teaspoons dried sage
- ½ cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 cups arugula, rinsed and patted dry
- Half an apple, thinly-sliced
- 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
- Preheat oven to 325° Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with foil, then lightly spray the foil with non-stock spray.
- Combine the brown sugar and water in a medium pot. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and stir in the pecans. Continue stirring the nuts until they are evenly coated with the caramel.
- Pour the nuts onto the prepared baking sheet, using a spatula or wooden spoon to spread them out evenly. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the caramel thickens and nuts are dark brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the nuts from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Remove the cooled nuts from the sheet tray and break them into small bite-sized pieces.
- Combine the lemon juice, mustard,shallots and sage in a small bowl.Gradually pour in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until the vinaigrette thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Combine all of the ingredients, except for the vinaigrette, in a medium bowl. Toss, adding just enough vinaigrette to evenly coat the salad. Serve immediately.