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This Pear and Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese and Apricot Vinaigrette is mild and sweet. The flavors of this salad come together like magic!
Pears are a fall fruit. I love to roast them, add them to salads, and eat them as they are. But my favorite way to enjoy pears is by far, in a salad. They add a nice crunch and a sweet (but not too sweet) contrast to the sweet and peppery flavor of baby arugula.
Additionally, the vinaigrette is freakin’ awesome. Apricot vinaigrette? Yes, please. It also makes a fantastic chicken marinade if you have some left over..so definitely keep that in mind!
You can certainly customize this salad to fit what you have available in your fridge and pantry. I’ll discuss substitutions and variations that work well below, but for now let’s discuss the salad ingredients!
Ingredients + substitutions
- Baby arugula - has a mild, peppery, and slightly nutty flavor. I love using it for fall salads and it is way less bitter than mature arugula leaves. Baby arugula is definitely my go-to. If you don’t have baby arugula you can use spinach or mixed greens.
- Red pear - this is a pear salad, and I’m using a red skinned pear because they have a sweet and mild flavor. If you’d like to swap the red pear for a bosc pear, an anjou pear, bosc pears, or even apples.
- Feta - crumbled feta is the best choice for this salad because it’s mild and sweet. You can also swap it for goat cheese (although it’s much tangier).
- Dried cranberries - they add flavor, color, texture, and some slight tart-ness to the salad.
- Pumpkin seeds - (pepitas) add to the fall-theme of this salad. You can swap the pumpkin seeds for pine nuts if you’d like.
- Pecans - chopped pecans add some flavor and crunch to this salad. If you’d like to swap the pecans for walnuts that works well too!
Apricot vinaigrette dressing
- Olive oil - a quality extra virgin olive oil is the best choice for this salad dressing.
- White wine vinegar - has a pretty mild acidity compared to some other vinegars making it the best choice for this mild and fruit salad. It’s not overpowering at all.
- Apricot jam - a smooth, quality apricot jam is best, but if you have apricot preserves those will work fine but will have chunks of apricot.
- Dijon mustard - to emulsify the dressing and add flavor.
- Honey - to add thickness and sweetness to the dressing.
- Thyme - dry thyme is the best choice but if you don’t have it you can swap it for oregano.
- Kosher salt - always use kosher salt!
STEP 1: In a large salad bowl, add the arugula, red pears, crumbled feta, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and chopped pecans.
STEP 2: In a mason jar, combine: olive oil, white wine vinegar, apricot jam, dijon mustard, honey, thyme, and kosher salt. Shake it until it’s combined.
STEP 3: Gently toss the salad with some of the dressing or serve it on the side.
Storage + make ahead
You can certainly make this salad up to a day ahead and save it in a covered bowl.
Toss all of the ingredients together, except for the pear and keep the dressing separate.
When you’re ready to serve the salad, slice the pear and toss the salad with the dressing or serve it on the side.
What to do with leftover salad dressing?
If you have leftover salad dressing, I always recommend using it as a marinade for chicken!
What to serve with pear and arugula salad?
Arugula Pear Salad with Goat Cheese and Apricot Vinaigrette
FOR THE SALAD
- 6 cups baby arugula
- 2 red pears
- ¼ cup crumbled feta
- 3 tbsp dried cranberries
- 3 tbsp pumpkin seeds pepitas
- 3 tbsp chopped pecans
FOR THE APRICOT VINAIGRETTE
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp apricot jam
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp honey
- ½ tsp thyme
- Pinch of kosher salt
- In a large salad bowl, add the arugula, red pears, crumbled feta, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and chopped pecans.
- In a mason jar, combine: olive oil, white wine vinegar, apricot jam, dijon mustard, honey, thyme, and kosher salt. Shake it until it’s combined.
- Gently toss the salad with some of the dressing or serve it on the side.
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