This arugula salad recipe with pear and blue cheese sets itself apart from similar salads thanks to its honey walnut vinaigrette, which cloaks peppery greens, creamy blue cheese, and crisp pear in a subtly sweet, nutty dressing. Everything jumbled together is so spectacular you may just catch folks licking the plate.
We have an ongoing love affair with creative salads. This is where seasonality and local ingredients get really fun. Eating with the seasons is something we are very passionate about. Eating what is in season is the most nutritious way of eating because it typically leads to eating locally. And when you can buy food more locally, not only does it have more nutritional value, but it also tastes better. There is nothing like eating an apple that has been picked fresh off a tree rather than one that has been flown across the world.—Jennifer, Jessica, and Jill Emich
Arugula Salad with Pear and Blue Cheese
I want to eat seasonally. What can I substitute for arugula?
In the winter, it can be hard to find arugula but you can sub it out with another spicy green like spinach or simple mixed greens.
Can I make this salad gluten-free, too?
When using blue cheeses, note that not all of them are gluten-free. If this concerns you, check the packaging to be sure.
Arugula Salad with Pear and Blue Cheese
For the vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup walnut pieces
- 1 tablespoon minced shallots
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or Champagne vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- Sea salt to taste
For the salad
- 2 cups baby arugula (or watercress or spinach)
- 1/2 cup blue cheese (any variety) crumbled or thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup pears, any variety (1 to 2 pears) unpeeled, and thinly sliced or cut into a 1/2-inch dice
- 1/4 cup chopped dates (optional)
- Handful walnut halves or pieces (optional)
Make the vinaigrette
- Toss the walnuts, shallots, vinegar, honey, and thyme, if using, in a blender and process until thoroughly combined. While the blender is still running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream. When the oil has been incorporated, slowly add enough water to achieve the desired consistency. (You may not need to add all the water.) Taste and season with salt to taste.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
The best part of trying out a new recipe is finding one that makes you go wow. And by that, I mean WOW!
First, the vinaigrette for this arugula salad with pear and blue cheese is amazingly creamy. You can barely taste the actual walnuts—it’s nutty but you can’t quite pinpoint what type of nut. The texture was smooth, creamy, yet not too thick. The dressing alone took about 5 minutes to make.
The salad took about another 5 minutes to prepare. The blue cheese I used was already crumbled. I decided to dice the pears into small cubes to blend well with the cheese. The final taste was the pepperiness of the arugula, the sweetness of the honey walnut vinaigrette, the saltiness of the cheese—everything combined amazingly well together. This is a winner. This was only enough for two people as a starter.
This arugula salad with pear and blue cheese was a lovely combination of bitter, sweet, and savory. The presentation was elegant as well. I think that the recipe would have served 4. This makes a generous amount of dressing. I’ll be eating it for weeks! The dressing recipe didn’t specify if the walnuts were to be toasted or raw so I made the dressing with raw walnuts.
I used a Costello blue cheese, which was soft and slightly milder than some blue cheeses. I thought it worked really nicely. My local market only had Bartlett pears so that’s what I used. I cut the pears into slices to have a more elegant look.
Although lovely, the combination of greens, pears, and cheese isn’t new. However, I felt the vinaigrette in this recipe really elevated it and made the salad special. I’d definitely make it again. I used mixed baby greens, Danish blue cheese, and d’Anjou pear.
I love the classic pairing of peppery greens, creamy blue cheese, and crisp pear that forms the basis of this lovely salad. What really drew me to try this recipe, however, was the unique honey walnut vinaigrette. I love, love, love the idea of making a puréed vinaigrette of buttery walnuts, honey, shallots, vinegar, and thyme. (I used fresh thyme, not dried, just because that’s what I had on hand.) The texture was silky and amazing and you could really taste the minced shallots, which gave a nice bright yet slightly peppery flavor to the dressing. I’d guess that this is a very nice base recipe in terms of using any nut for a puréed vinaigrette. I’d love to try something similar with pistachios or maybe even pecans.
I used watercress instead of arugula, a diced ripe red pear, and slices of Roquefort cheese. I love the look of slices of cheese on this salad instead of crumbles. I think it adds a certain elegance. I was thrilled with the salad recipe up to this point, but was even more excited about the use of chopped dates! They add a nice texture to the salad as well as a subtle sweetness that was superb.
This made a lot of dressing. I don’t mind, though, as I’ll be using it on salads all week long! And maybe even as a nice dip for a crudites platter. Overall, the combination of flavors and textures was amazing here–I’ll keep this arugula salad with pear and blue cheese in mind for future dinner menus.
This arugula salad with pear and blue cheese makes an excellent salad. Not only is it visually appealing, but it also has great flavor and texture.
You’ll have more vinaigrette than needed, but it can be held in the refrigerator for a while and used on other salads. I used Champagne vinegar which is lighter and milder than red wine vinegar. There are many choices of good blue cheese. I crumbled a wedge of Spanish blue cheese—El Cortijo Campos de Toledo. It was a great cheese to use for this salad—very creamy and perfect flavor combined with the honey walnut vinaigrette, peppery arugula, and sweetness of the pear.
The salad will serve 2 as a lunch entrée and 4 as a starter or side salad. I used one d’Anjou pear and cut it into 1/2-inch dice. Pear slices would probably look nicer, but the dice incorporates into the salad better and is easier to eat.
First, let me say that this is such a good salad! I like all the elements separately and they’re even better together. It comes together so easily, even the vinaigrette, and just makes for a nice, but fancy salad. I could totally see serving this salad for a special dinner, it presents very well.
The contrast of the sweet dates and pears to the savory and sharp walnuts and blue cheese is such a good combo. I splurged on a nicer quality blue cheese (I believe it was a Denmark blue cheese) and crumbled it up myself rather than buying the pre-crumbled blue cheese. The cheese was really kind of creamy yet sharp…such a good choice for this salad. I say splurge a little on the cheese, it makes a difference.
In my opinion, this makes a lot of salad dressing for the amount of arugula indicated in the recipe. I halved the dressing recipe and still ended up with about a 1/2 cup of the dressing. You’ll want to make sure that you taste the dressing for seasoning. I found that I needed a little more salt after my initial salting and I opted not to include the thyme…mainly because I didn’t have any. The dressing is really good, even without the thyme.
Such a great salad…I’ll be eating it again for dinner tonight. I used a nicely ripe red pear and I opted to slice it, rather than dice, definitely more elegant!
First of all, the vinaigrette is the star of the show. I could drink this dressing. I’ve already saved the dressing on a card in my recipe box and can see myself using this for almost any salad. It would be great with bacon or candied nuts or even just a house salad…let’s be real here, it would elevate a pile of lettuce into something fancy and delicious. So as for the dressing, don’t change anything. It’s perfect.
The arugula salad with pear and blue cheese itself is lovely, too—it’s simple and made with things you probably either have or can easily find and involves very little prep. It’s great as-is and would make a lovely salad course or even a side course any night of the week even for guests over. (I find that guests are easily impressed if they get a refined-looking salad. It helps them ignore the fact that I still don’t have matching place settings…)
The tweaks we tried made it even better, however. The crunch from the nuts with the creaminess of the cheese and the chewy sweetness from the dates is ridiculously good. Next, we added some cooked salmon to the salad (thus making a sort of dinner salad out of it) and LOVED it. I’d bet some roast chicken would be just as good or better. With a huge batch of dressing made in advance, this would make such a beautiful and easy weeknight dinner and it’s such a wonderful combo of sweet, savory, and salty.
I elected to plate the entire arugula salad with pear and blue cheese on a platter instead of individually. For presentation’s sake, I halved and cored 2 pears and then thinly sliced them and arranged them over the top of the salad. I used crumbled blue cheese. For me, the dressing was the shining star here. I loved the thick, smooth texture that the walnuts added.
I used only half the vinaigrette to dress the salad and didn’t feel more was needed. I added a few tablespoons of water to the leftovers the next day to thin it out a bit.
This arugula salad has the perfect combination of salad ingredients. You’ve got the spicy arugula, crisp pear, pungent blue cheese, sweet dates, and the nutty walnut vinaigrette. A match made in heaven!
I’ve made this arugula salad with pear and blue cheese twice in one week. The recipe makes 4 side salad servings. I used Gorgonzola. I was very happy to have some leftover vinaigrette. I really liked the dressing.
Originally published October 28, 2016