This simple arugula salad with country ham, pears, and honey vinaigrette is the perfect balance of sweet, salty, crunchy, and peppery.
This salad isn’t for people who just want a bowl of leaves. It’s full of crunchy walnuts, bitter arugula, deliciously rich ham, and slices of sweet pear. Those ingredients are sure to please even the most salad-skeptic at your table. –Bruce Weinstein | Mark Scarbrough
Arugula Salad FAQs
Can I make this salad ahead of time?
Absolutely. Prepare all of your ingredients and make the dressing – but do not dress the salad until you’re ready to serve. If you’re concerned about the pears browning, dip the slices into the dressing quickly and store them separately from the other ingredients until you are ready to assemble your salad. The lemon juice and vinegar will help them retain their natural color.
What is the difference between regular and raw honey?
Raw honey: Raw honey comes is extracted directly from the honeycomb. It’s raw, unprocessed, and unpasteurized. If you can find honey locally, it’s said that the pollen it contains can help strengthen your immune system and maybe help with pollen allergies (like a sweet, tasty allergy shot!). Raw honey is quite thick, can be a bit cloudy, and may contain bits of honeycomb. The color and clarity of each honey vary, depending on where the bees sourced their pollen.
Regular honey: Regular, or pasteurized honey, is clear and smooth. Pasteurization improves the honey’s appearance, increases its shelf-life, and kills any present yeast. If you’re looking at commercially bottled honey, do check the ingredients. Many contain added sweeteners such as corn syrup, so you may not be dealing with a 100% pure product. Additionally, it’s thought that some of the benefits of natural honey are lost in the processing/pasteurizing process – things like bee pollen (which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties) and vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. If you’re unable to find pure, raw honey locally, don’t fret. There are some very good options at your local grocer. Just watch the labels.
Arugula Salad with Country Ham, Pears, and Honey Vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup walnut pieces
- 2/3 pound (about 4 cups) baby arugula leaves
- 6 ounces cooked ham rind removed and discarded, meat thinly sliced and cut into strips
- 1 large ripe Bartlett pear peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons toasted walnut oil (or, in a pinch, olive oil)
- Sprinkle the walnuts around a dry skillet set over medium-low heat. Leave them alone a couple minutes, then stir well and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, just until splotchy brown and fragrant. Pour them out onto a cutting board, cool for a few minutes, then chop into little bits.
- Mix the arugula, ham, and pear pieces in a large bowl.
- Whisk the lemon juice, vinegar, honey, and mustard in a small bowl, then whisk in the oil in a slow, steady stream until you’ve got a creamy, somewhat thick dressing.
- Pour the dressing over the arugula mixture, and then sprinkle the toasted walnut pieces on top.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This makes a fabulous substantial salad, enough for a meal. The saltiness of the country ham meshes so well with the meaty, aromatic toasted walnuts, slightly tart/sweet pears and the sweet/acidic honey apple cider vinaigrette. And the slightly bitter peppery arugula seals the deal rather nicely by adding yet another flavor dimension. I do not think you could improve upon this balance, except to perhaps add some chunks of gorgonzola and/or crispy pancetta instead of the country ham. Or maybe not. It is nearly perfect as is.
This arugula salad with country ham, pears, and honey vinaigrette is a wonderful blend of flavors. The slightly bitter arugula combined with the saltiness of the ham (I used applewood smoked ham), and the refreshing taste of a sweet pear, topped with toasted walnuts makes this a wonderful light meal. The refreshing vinaigrette is delicious and would work well with numerous other salad combinations. When I bake a ham, I usually have leftovers that I am looking to use in creative ways. This salad is perfect.
This salad was perfectly balanced. My husband described it as very “posh” and I will agree, it did feel a bit on the fancy side, which was nice considering it was so easy! I made it as a main dish for lunch and was very satisfied, but it would absolutely make a wonderful side salad or appetizer for a dinner party. I would add some crumbled blue cheese next time – it just felt like it was begging for it – but if that’s not your thing, it is perfectly enjoyable as is. I added a pinch of salt to my dressing to taste.
Originally published April 5, 2010