This simple Arugula Salad with Apples, Cranberries, and Pecans is a perfect everyday salad and a great holiday side dish! Tossed with a basic Balsamic dressing, this salad will add fresh greens, fruit, and nuts to any dinner. The salad pairs well with grilled meats, baked chicken, pasta, and pizza dinners.
Made with basic ingredients, this apple arugula salad is a perfect sidekick to pretty much anything: grilled meats, pasta dinners, pork recipes, and steak. It's also a great holiday salad that will make any dinner look even more festive on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year.
The recipe has only 6 ingredients and takes just 30 minutes to make! My other salad favorites include an arugula salad with pine nuts and cranberry spinach salad with cashews and goat cheese.
What is Arugula?
Arugula is an amazing leaf vegetable that should not be neglected in your salads. It has a fresh, peppery, almost mustardy flavor that is so unique and tasty. Arugula is also often called rocket, rucola, or roquette.
Arugula is most often used in different kinds of salads, as well as a topping for pizzas. A very popular way to use arugula is in a salad with tomatoes and burrata cheese.
Nutritionally, arugula contains many dietary minerals, such as magnesium and calcium, and is an excellent source of many types of vitamins, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and folate.
- Arugula. Famous for its mustardy and almost peppery flavor, arugula is a popular green often used in salads and as pizza toppings. Packed with flavor, arugula will add elegance and nutrition to your salad.
- Apple. Cored and diced apples provide color and a festive look to this salad.
- Pecans. Toasted pecans add a holiday flair and Autumn vibes to an arugula salad. Pecans make this a perfect side dish to serve at your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. They also provide healthy fats, protein, and are a good source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
- Dried Cranberries. Another colorful and festive ingredient, dried cranberries add perfectly balanced sweetness to the salad. Tip: Soak dried cranberries in boiling water for 5 minutes to plump them up and make the juicer. The cranberries will add pretty colors and a festive look to an arugula salad.
Salad Dressing Ingredients
- Balsamic Vinegar. While you can use any type of balsamic vinegar, take this salad to the next level by using a high-quality, aged Balsamic vinegar made in Italy. It is usually sold in specialized stores or foreign sections of some regular grocery stores.
- Olive oil. High-quality olive oil is recommended. Use extra virgin olive oil that is meant to be used in salads and not for high heat cooking.
How to Make an Arugula Salad
The beauty of this salad is its simplicity. Only 6 ingredients and 30 minutes of your time - and the arugula salad is ready in no time!
- Combine arugula, apples, whole pecans, and dried cranberries in a large bowl.
- In a medium bowl, mix together balsamic vinegar and olive oil until emulsified.
- Add balsamic dressing to the salad.
- Toss to combine.
- Top with chopped pecans.
- Fresh Fruit. This salad works equally well with apples, pears, or mango. Pick your own fruit and enjoy! Any type of apple will work, but it's best to use sweet kinds of apples, such as Fuji or Gala.
- Nuts. Pecans are what makes this salad so perfect for Thanksgiving or the holiday season. However, it will also be delicious with walnuts or cashews. If you find candied pecans or candied walnuts in the grocery store - that's even better!
- Dried Fruit. If you don't have or don't like dried cranberries, replace them with any other small dried fruit. The best choices here would be dried cherries, blueberries, raisins, or chopped dried figs.
What Main Dishes Pair Well with Arugula Salad?
- Gourmet Main Courses. Even though this apple arugula salad is pretty basic, it makes a beautiful presentation thanks to all the colors. That, in turn, makes it a perfect choice for a festive occasion. Serve this salad alongside roast duck or duck breasts with cranberry sauce.
- Pasta. Pasta dishes always benefit from tasty salads. Pair this salad with butternut squash and spinach lasagna or butternut squash ravioli.
- Pizza. Make this salad for your take-out night and serve it with your favorite pizza! Tip: order pizza with arugula topping for an even more perfect pairing!
- Seafood. Seafood and salads are an excellent combo. Serve the arugula salad alongside a parmesan-crusted salmon or trout recipe with garlic lemon butter sauce.
How to Store Arugula Salad
Store leftover arugula salad in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for a day or two, but no longer. Storing the salad will wilt the leaves and make pecans soggy, however, the salad will still be quite tasty. Tip: If you plan on refrigerating the salad for a day or two, don't add nuts. Add nuts right before serving.
Can You Make This Ahead?
The arugula salad can be made ahead and served later. Here is how to do it:
- Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl (or a large airtight container) and keep it covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
- Separately, combine the salad dressing ingredients in a small airtight jar, and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
- When ready to serve, toss the salad together with the dressing.
Arugula Salad with Apples, Cranberries, and Pecans
- 5 ounces arugula
- 1 apple cored and diced (use large apples, such as Fuji or Gala)
- ½ cup pecans lightly toasted
- ½ cup cranberries dried
Balsamic Dressing Ingredients
- ¼ cup Balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- To a large bowl, add arugula, cored and diced apple, cranberries, and half of the toasted pecans (¼ cup).
- Chop up the remaining half (¼ cup) of toasted pecan into small pieces. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine Balsamic vinegar with olive oil, until emulsified.
- Drizzle the Balsamic vinegar and olive oil mixture over the salad. Sprinkle the salad with chopped toasted pecans.Note: you don't have to use the whole amount of salad dressing. Use just enough to drizzle.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
What is a ‘LEMON WASH?’
Carole, I am not sure what lemon wash is either.
But, if you want to prevent the chopped apples from browning - you can somewhat remedy this by dipping chopped apples in lemon juice or lime juice.
If you were to add a cheese to the salad what would you suggest?
I would add goat cheese, feta cheese, or Gorgonzola cheese.
Will the apples turn dark if you make this ahead? Would this salad be considered vegan?
Yes, the cut apples do turn dark if you make this ahead. But there are ways to keep them from turning brown for an hour or two by using lemon juice.
Try a lemon wash to stop them from turning brown.
And you can select an apple variety that is slower to turn brown.
Made this and it was really good!
Happy to hear that!
Making this right now for dinner!
Made this salad along with you butternut squash and sausage pasta. Lovely combination!
I am so glad you enjoyed this recipe! Thank you for the comment. 🙂