This salad is so simple to put together, but it still feels like you put some thought into it! My mom, sister, and I first made it on Christmas day when we wanted something a little lighter on the menu (although the mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and desserts are delicious). Anyway, I loved it so much that I’ve made it for lunch twice since then!
We have a garden in the backyard filled with herbs and also some greens and vegetables. It is so much fun to be able to walk out back and snip fresh basil, mint, leeks, or arugula! Arugula is a type of green that has a spicy, peppery bite to it. If you don’t like its potent flavor, you can substitute any type of lettuce or green that you prefer.
What I think pairs really well with an arugula salad is candied pecans (or walnuts – whatever you have on hand), apples (I have an new obsession with Honey crisp apples…go to the grocery store now and buy 5 of them), and goat cheese. Candied pecans taste like they sound – candy. They are addictive. If you make this salad, make sure you make extra candied pecans. They will be eaten. The sweetness and crunch of the candied pecans play with the peppery flavor of the arugula in a delicious way. In the same manner, the apple in this salad has a sweet crunch and it also soaks up the homemade balsamic vinaigrette. The last accompaniment to this arugula salad is goat cheese. One of my favorite ingredients! It’s so creamy and tangy and goes beautifully with this whole dish. Yumm.
To make the salad really pretty and keep the apples uniform, I just cut the “cheeks” off of the apples.
The homemade balsamic vinaigrette is very simple to make. It’s just a little dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, EVOO, and salt and pepper. Whisk away!
Arugula Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette: (little maddie’s original :))
6 cups fresh arugula
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup sugar
3 oz. soft goat cheese, crumbled
2 apples, sliced
Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette:
Yields 1 cup
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup EVOO
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Wash arugula and set aside to dry. Place pecans in a pan over medium heat. Toast them for about 1-2 minutes and then sprinkle sugar over them. Let the sugar caramelize the pecans until all of the sugar has melted, about 5-6 minutes. Place the candied pecans on a piece of foil to cool.
Cut the cheeks of the apples off, and then cut them into 1/4 inch slices. Set aside. To assemble the salad, place the arugula onto your serving dish. Top with slices of apple, crumbled goat cheese, and candied pecans.
To make the dressing, simply put the dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, and EVOO in a bowl and mix together with a whisk. Season with salt and pepper and pour over salad (be sure not to over-dress).