Sweet delicious grilled pears mixed with salty shaved parmesan on a bed of crunchy arugula leaves are a match made in heaven. Crisp and refreshing, it is a perfect Christmas lunch salad recipe.
Do you know the moment when you have been invited to a BBQ or a dinner party and the host tells you that you don't have to bring a thing... or maybe just a SIMPLE SALAD! I always asked myself how simple this salad should actually be? And that is where the struggle begins.
Of course, we don't want to make just a simple salad! We want this salad to be delicious and that by the end of the event this salad plater is empty. Ideally, it also would be easy to make. Do you know the situation? Do not fear my friend! I am glad you are here because today I will share with you the most amazing pear salad with arugula (rocket), pear and parmesan! Your PERFECT SIMPLE SALAD!
A word about arugula
Arugula or rocket leaves as we call it in Australia is a peppery green that originated in the Mediterranean region. Arugula is a member of the Cruciferous family which includes well-known superfood heroes such as Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli.
This delicious green is packed with fibre and phytochemicals. And it is especially well known for its cancer-fighting properties.
Thanks to arugula's delicious peppery taste, it is used in many different ways, like adding it to tacos, sandwiches, wraps or on top of pizza. This simple arugula salad recipe is one of my favorite ways to eat this nutritious green.
Why should you make it?
This simple arugula salad is great in so many ways.
- It is super easy to make. Everything is done in under 20 minutes.
- It is healthy and nourishing, thanks to all the natural ingredients. Great way to build up your leafy green intake.
- A perfect healthy side that tastes delicious.
- Looks beautiful and is a great option to take to a friend's BBQ party, when you are told not to bring a thing.
- It is a family-friendly recipe. I promise your kids will love it, at least the grilled pear part 😉
- It is simply delicious!
You might have already tried to make this kind of salad before, but I promise you this is the simplest and best arugula salad recipe you ever will come across. The main secret of my variation of this amazing pear salad is that I quickly grill my pears. This makes a huge difference in how this salad tastes.
To make this delicious healthy salad you will need only a few simple ingredients.
- Baby arugula leaves. We call it rocket leaves here in Australia. Italians call it e rucola. No matter what you want to call it, you need to find fresh baby arugula leaves! The baby leaves are smaller and more delicate. They are milder in taste than the mature variety. It is especially important if you want your little ones to give it a go.
- Pears. Any pears will work. But make sure the pears are not quite ripe yet. Ripe pears will dissolve when you cook them, and we need the pear slices to keep their shape.
- Parmesan. There are many kinds of cheeses in the supermarket that are called parmesan. Not all of them are. I recommend you look for an imported Italian Parmesan cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano, as it will make a huge difference to your salad. For a more budget-friendly variety choose Grana Padano, it tastes very similar to Parmesan and costs a bit less.
- If for any reason you can't find Parmesan cheese or you are one of the crazy people who doesn't like Parmesan 😉 - you can substitute with goat cheese or feta cheese. It will taste different, nevertheless delicious.
Arugula salad dressing ingredients:
- Extra virgin olive oil. Always choose an oil that is sold in glass bottles, never in plastic.
- Balsamic vinegar. Use gluten-free variety.
- Dijon mustard. For creamines.
- Honey (optional) to taste.
- Sea salt and black pepper to season
See the measurements in the recipe card below.
Salad dressing alternative
If you are not a fan of balsamic vinaigrette, you can swap it for fresh lemon juice.
How to make it
- Wash and dry the arugula leaves in a salad spinner. Place them in a large bowl, and set them aside.
- In a small jar mix all the dressing ingredients and mix to combine.
- Arrange the grilled pear slices on the arugula bed, pour the salad dressing over the salad, and sprinkle the shaved parmesan on top.
- The perfect side dish is ready!
The grilled pear
For the grilled pear you will need some firm pears. Wash and slice the pears and cook them on a bbq, griddle or frying pan until the pears are slightly caramelized and become golden. Do not overcook the pears. You can watch the video below to see how I did it.
How to serve
This great salad can be served in a variety of ways. As mentioned before it it is a perfect salad for a bbq party.
It is also great for Christmas lunch and dinner. It looks beautiful and never fails to impress. See my other recipes that are perfect for the Christmas table.
I quite often make it for dinner. Served with some lemon chicken or pan-fried chicken drumsticks, it makes a great main dish. My kids love it and I am happy because I know they got a lot of nutrients in this meal.
More healthy salad recipes to try:
- Choose underripe pears for the best results. If your pears are too soft they will fall apart while you are cooking/barbequing them.
- Look for baby arugula, it tastes milder and is more kids-friendly.
- The other little trick is to shave the parmesan with a julienne peeler or vegetable peeler. This way you will have long thin strips of parmesan and they will stick to the pear and to the arugula leaves which will ensure that every bite has all the complexity of flavours - the sweetness of pears, the saltiness of parmesan, and the peppery taste of arugula leaves mixed with sicky balsamic dressing - yum-yum!!
- Don't have or don't like Parmesan? Use feta, goat, pecorino, or blue cheese instead.
- If you don't have a barbeque, you can use a griddle. Or simply cook the sliced pears in a frying pan with a little splash of olive oil. It will look like this.
Can I make it in advance?
While this salad tastes the best fresh, you can save a little time by preparing some of the components a day in advance. This could be especially helpful if preparing for Christmas lunch or dinner.
- Wash and dry the arugula leaves and store them in the fridge in an airtight container. Make sure the leaves are dry. Want it even faster? Many supermarkets offer prewashed arugula leaves ready to be used.
- Shave Parmesan and store it in an air-tight container in the fridge.
- Mix the dressing ingredients in a Mason jar and refrigerate. Shake vigorously before serving. The dressing will stay fresh in the fridge for 3-4 weeks.
- Cut the pears and sprinkle them with lemon juice to prevent them from browning. Though I would recommend cutting the pear on the day for the best results.
More easy recipes to try
Arugula salad with parmesan and grilled pear
- 200 g of baby arugula leaves rocket salad washed and dried
- 1-2 big pears thinly sliced. You can use any pear variety.
- 20 g of Parmesan shaved with a Julienne peeler or coarsely grated.
- 3 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoon of any sweet and sticky balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon honey optional, only use if your balsamic vinegar is very sour
- Salt and pepper to season
- Wash the arugula leaves in a salad spinner, spin them dry, and place them in a large salad bowl. Set aside.
- Make the dressing. Add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and honey, if using, into a small glass jar and shake well to combine. Set aside.
- Cut the pear in half. Place the cut side down on a chopping board and slice the pear into thin slices.
- Place the pear slices on a hot bbq or griddle and cook them for 30-40 seconds on each side, or until you can see the griddle lines.
- If using a frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil on high-medium heat. Place pear slices so they are all laying flat in the frying pan and cook them for one minute on each side. Make sure not to cook the pear slices for too long or they get too mushy.
- Take the pear slices out and place them on a big plate to cool down completely.
- Shake the dressing once again and drizzle it over the salad leaves, toss gently.
- Sprinkle shaved parmesan over the salad and arrange the grilled pears on the top.