This Pear Arugula Salad is truly a classic Italian salad. The complementary flavors of peppery arugula, sweet juicy pears, creamy walnuts and salty Parmesan cheese create such a burst of flavors! You’ll love this salad even if you don’t like arugula.
The concept behind Italian cuisine is very easy.
Fresh, quality ingredients + simple, basic methods = Italian cuisine
This light and refreshing simple salad recipe is the perfect example of this concept.
The combination of fresh pungent greens with the natural fresh sweetness of fruit, topped with the rich creamy texture of nuts and a salty cheese all drizzled with the best extra virgin olive oil and a squirt of lemon juice will leave you speechless.
Let’s take a moment to discover a few of these ingredients and highlight some of their qualities.
What is arugula?
Did you know that arugula is actually a herb?
Even though it is often characterized as the lettuce with personality, arugula is actually a member of the mustard family, Brassicaceae, which includes broccoli, cabbage, and kale.
Arugula, also referred to as garden rocket, roquette, rucola or rugula (to name but a few) is an annual herb with lobular, elongated green leaves.
Arugula is extremely easy to grow and can be harvested within forty days of sowing the seeds. Keep in mind that the bitterness is more pronounced as the plant matures.
Here a few tips on buying and storing arugula in case gardening is not for you.
How do you choose and store arugula?
- look for crisp, dark leaves with no signs of yellowing;
- keep arugula refrigerated and enjoy within 2-3 days of purchasing for maximal freshness.
What are the nutritional benefits of arugula?
One cup of arugula has only 5 calories and is a great source of Vitamins A, K and the B-vitamin, folic acid.
Replacing the arugula
Perhaps arugula is not easily available where you are -here are some great arugula alternatives:
- dandelion greens
- Swiss chard
The versatility of pears makes them the perfect ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes. They are available year-round and usually hit the farmer’s markets in late summer and early fall.
Certain types of pears are great for cooking, while others are best when eaten raw. Some varieties can be consumed cooked or raw. Because of this variability, pears can be baked, broiled, poached or even grilled.
Needless to say, there really is nothing better than biting into a sweet, juicy ripe pear!
How do you choose and store pears?
- select pears that are firm, free of soft spots or cuts and slightly under-ripe;
- leave at room temperature to ripen.
Here is a great little video to test for pear ripeness.
What are the nutritional benefits of pears?
One medium pear provides approximately 5.5 grams of fiber and contains a healthy amount of Vitamin C, potassium and phytochemicals. All of this for only 100 calories.
Fresh walnuts have a bittersweet flavor and are equally delicious in sweet or savory dishes. They also make a nutritious snack on their own.
They can be purchased shelled (available whole, chopped, ground) or unshelled. Walnuts are harvested in the fall when the hulls split open and the walnuts naturally fall to the ground.
How do you choose and store walnuts?
- for walnuts in their shell -no mold should be present;
- for walnuts without the shell -avoid discolored or shriveled nutmeats;
- store shelled walnuts in an airtight container, placed in the refrigerator if using within a month, otherwise place in the freezer;
- walnuts with the shell can be stored at room temperature for a couple of weeks.
What are the nutritional benefits of walnuts?
As you probably know, most nuts are heart-healthy foods. Walnuts are no exception. In fact, they are the only nuts that provide a high amount of omega 3 fatty acids. A mere ounce will provide you with 4 grams of protein and about 2 grams of fiber along with B complex vitamins, magnesium, calcium and phosphorous.
Now that you know a little bit more about these wonderful ingredients, are we ready to have some fun?
How to make a pear arugula salad
Let’s begin by toasting the walnuts.
Toasting walnuts (or any nuts) not only improves their taste and aroma but also increases the crunchiness of the nut.
So if you are wondering whether or not you should skip this step…. don’t. Your taste buds will thank you!
Here’s how to toast walnuts in your oven -simply scatter them on a baking sheet and place in a 350-degree oven for about 8-10 minutes. Make sure to give them a shake every once in a while. Once they are done, remove them from the oven, transfer them to a plate and allow them to cool off.
In the meanwhile, we can get the rest of the ingredients ready to make the best arugula salad.
Let’s start with the arugula. Once rinsed and spun dry, place the arugula in a large shallow plate. Set it aside while we slice the pears.
Wash, halve and core the pears. Then, with a very sharp knife, slice them thinly. Feel free to remove the skins if they are tough.
Have you ever wondered why pears brown quickly once they are cut open? Some simple chemistry is the answer.
The fact is that pears (just like bananas, apples, peaches and potatoes) contain an enzyme called tyrosinase. As soon as there is exposure to oxygen, there is a chemical reaction that occurs and the result is a visible browning on the pear.
Here are some ways to prevent or to slow down this browning process:
- submerging in water (this cuts the oxygen);
- adding certain preservatives or
- applying acid on the cut surface.
Place the thinly sliced pears in a small bowl with some lemon juice. This will preserve their color while we get the rest of the ingredients ready.
By this time, the walnuts should have cooled off, give them a quick chop and let’s start making the salad.
Scatter the pear slices on top of the arugula; followed by some Parmesan shavings and a sprinkle of walnuts.
Finally, drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil, a few squirts of lemon juice and enjoy!
Arugula salad recipes we love
If you like Italian food, you know that this Pear Arugula Salad (or a variation of) can often be found on the menu in so many Italian restaurants.
It simply is a question of balancing out the flavors and as you can see, the ingredients are simply layered in a large shallow serving dish.
The wonderful thing about this salad is that it can easily be replicated at home with some of your favorite ingredients.
Do you have a favorite arugula combination?
Would love to hear about it in the comments below.
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★★★★★ If you have made this pear arugula salad recipe, I would love to hear about it in the comments below and be sure to rate the recipe!
Pear Arugula Salad
- 2 pears bosc or other firm pear
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 6-8 cups arugula fresh, rinsed and spun dry
- 2-3 ounces Parmesan cheese shavings
- 1/3 cup walnuts toasted and chopped
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- Halve and core the pears. Slice thinly and place in a bowl along with the lemon juice. Set aside.
- Place the arugula in a large platter or bowl.
- Add the Parmesan shavings, the pears and the toasted walnuts.
- Drizzle with the olive oil.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Toss together and serve immediately.