This simple rocket pear salad is delicious, light, easy and loaded with nutrition. It combines sweet and savory flavors from peppery arugula greens, sweet juicy pears, crunchy almonds, tangy dried cranberries, maple syrup and balsamic vinegar. Perfect addition to pasta, soups or sandwiches to make your meal more fresh and vibrant.
This rocket pear salad makes for such a simple and light dish you will want to make over and over again.
We have made this beet cucumber salad so many times since the end of the summer and now that the weather is cooling off, I am starting to crave more fall flavors. And this vegan arugula salad is perfect to transition into the autumn season with its delicious blend of seasonal ingredients and robust tastes.
This elegant salad features peppery rocket (or arugula greens), with sweet and juicy pear, red onion for a nice bite, tangy cranberries and crunchy almonds.
The combination of ingredients gives it that perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors that are mostly naturally coming from the pear and greens. We loved the chewy bite from the cranberries and the nice crunch from the almonds.
The dressing is also so easy to whip up together and simply features white balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, garlic and a little dijon. I like to use tahini to make the vinaigrette rich, creamy and higher in healthy fats, but you can simply use a good-quality extra virgin olive oil instead.
Such a perfect salad for the fall! Hope you give it a try! ❤️
Healthy pear arugula salad
Arugula (or rocket) is a powerhouse of nutrition! It is part of the cruciferous family (alongside other cabbages), explaining the impressive amounts of nutrients it contains. Arugula is rich in:
- Antioxidants: combat free radicals to prevent cell damage.
- Fiber: helps to maintain good digestion.
- Vitamin C, A and K (and other vitamins): important to keep a strong immune system, healthy vision, proper blood clotting and strong bones.
- Iron: essential to encourage high energy levels.
- Folate: important for cell growth and repair.
- Mineral: such as calcium and potassium, essential for bone and heart health.
Why you should try this recipe
- Easy and quick to prepare
- Fresh, bright and vibrant salad
- Healthy recipe that's loaded with nutrition, such as vitamins and anti-cancer compounds
- Perfect dish for the holiday season or to include part of the Christmas or Thanksgiving table.
- Flavor-packed with a tasty mix of sweet vs salty flavors.
- Very versatile and easy to customize
- Vegan, vegetarian and plant-based
What you will need (+ substitutions)
As for most salads, this recipe is so versatile! You can easily use it as inspiration and make your own version by swapping it for what you like or already have in your house. Check out more customization ideas below!
- Arugula: using super fresh, bright green and ultra-crisp rocket greens are essential for this recipe. Avoid wilted or yellowish leaves for the best result.
- Fresh pear: look for a perfectly ripe pear that's soft and juicy, this will give the salad so much more amazing sweet flavor naturally.
- Red onion: I prefer red onion compared to yellow or white onion for its sweeter and milder flavor.
- Dried cranberries: add a pleasant chewy bite, more sweetness and a nice pop of color. You can swap for another dried fruit, such as raisins, chopped dates, dried apricots or dried cherries.
- Almonds: I like slivered almonds best in this salad, but if you only have regular almonds, then simply roughly chop them first. Pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds would be great too.
For the dressing
- White balsamic vinegar: I love white balsamic to make dressings as it is sweeter and not as strong in vinegary taste compared to other kinds of vinegar. Dark balsamic works too and if you only have white or red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, then you can simply adjust the amount of maple syrup.
- Maple syrup: my favorite sweetener for dressings. Agave nectar should work too, although I like the caramel-like taste of maple in this fall salad.
- Tahini or olive oil: I prefer tahini as it is loaded with healthy fats and provides a mild nutty flavor to the dressing. You can also simply use olive oil!
- Dijon: just a little touch to enhance the flavor, but also helps emulsify the vinaigrette.
- Garlic: I used one small clove of garlic so the garlicky flavor isn’t too strong, but you can add more if you want.
Can I use other leafy greens instead of arugula?
Arugula or rocket has a very unique and strong peppery flavor. For this reason, arugula is often used as a garnish for pizza or pasta or mixed in with other greens when making a salad.
This salad highlights the flavor of arugula, but if you are new to this flavor, then feel free to use a mix of leafy greens instead.
Other greens that work well:
- Baby spinach
- Baby kale
- Spring mix
- Romaine lettuce
How to make a rocket pear salad
So easy and simple, this salad comes together within minutes. You can also make the dressing ahead of time if you like to meal-prep.
Whisk the salad dressing
In a small bowl or mason jar, add the balsamic vinegar, tahini (or oil), maple syrup, dijon, garlic and salt.
Whisk or shake the jar until combined. Then, taste and adjust the sweetener to your taste (which will depend on the sweetness of the pear) and add more salt as needed.
Combine the salad ingredients
In a large bowl, add the rocket leaves, thinly sliced red onion, thin slices of pear, cranberries and almonds.
Toss with dressing and serve
Pour some of the balsamic vinaigrette over (start with about half) and then toss to combine. Adjust the amount of dressing as needed and add some ground black pepper if desired.
Serve and enjoy!
- I highly recommend toasting the almonds (or the nuts/seeds you are using). This adds a huge amount of flavor and better crunch texture. To toast them, simply roast in a pan on medium-high heat for a few minutes stirring often until golden brown. Do not add any oil, this has to be done on a "dry" pan, and also, watch very carefully as it can burn quickly.
- You might have more dressing than you need, unless you add much more ingredients to it. Start with about half of it and add more if needed. This salad is best when not super heavy on dressing so it does not weigh down the delicate leaves.
- If raw onion is too strong in flavor for you, then you can use balsamic pickled onion instead or soak the finely sliced raw onion in cold water for a few hours before using. This should reduce their pungent flavor.
- I do not recommend peeling the pears for this recipe. The peels add a nice color, more texture and also, a ton more nutrients, such as fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, etc. Most pears have very delicate skin! Because we are including the peels in the salads, try to use organic pears and clean them thoroughly under water.
What goes well with arugula pear salad
This light and healthy salad makes for a perfect side dish for something heavier, like pasta dishes or cozy soups.
You can dust some homemade vegan parmesan cheese for more flavors or grate a store-bought parmesan cheese over your salad. We also love it with a generous amount of ground black pepper. Also, consider adding some pomegranate seeds over the salad for more crunchy texture and a tart-sweet taste or a drizzle of balsamic glaze when serving.
Here are a few more suggestions:
- Standalone meal: to turn this recipe into a main course, then serve with chickpeas (these spiced chickpeas would be great here), vegan feta cheese or roasted tofu. You can also serve with a side of bread to make this recipe more filling and substantial, perfect for lunch!
- Pasta: pair with a creamy pasta dish to balance with more freshness. Try it with a vegan creamy spinach pasta or a coconut milk pasta sauce.
- Soup: this salad would go great with dairy-free tomato soup or a butter bean stew.
- Sandwiches: we are obsessed with this fall-inspired roasted vegetable pesto sandwich, which would be a great pairing with this salad. Or enjoy with a simple cucumber sandwich for a delicious light meal.
- Vegetables: these vegan twice baked potatoes are great served with a simple salad like this arugula salad.
Variations to the recipe
You can easily swap or add more to this simple salad recipe depending on what you have.
You can swap the pear for an apple or use dates or figs instead of cranberries for a sweeter and less tangy result.
- Quinoa, couscous or brown rice
- Other fruits, especially oranges, grapes or grapefruit
- Roasted butternut squash or sweet potato
- Candied pecans
- Finely sliced radishes for a nice kick
- Cubed avocado for extra healthy omega-3 fats
- Fresh herbs, such as parsley or mint
This salad is best when enjoyed right away.
You can make the dressing ahead of time and keep it in an airtight container (such as a mason jar) in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.
Yes, this recipe is naturally gluten-free!
I do not recommend it. You can prepare the dressing ahead and keep it in a jar until you need it. If the salad is made ahead, then the pear could brown over time, the leaves would turn soggy and the almonds would lose their crunch.
Bartlett pears are great in this recipe for their very sweet flavor, soft flesh and juicy nature when fully ripe. That being said, you can experiment and use any kind of pear you like or already have. Bosc pears offer a firmer texture and milder sweetness, while green Anjou pears fall somewhere in between. Red pears would be great to bring more color!
Depending on the type of pear, you can look at the color to evaluate if it is ripe enough for this recipe. Bartlett pears become more yellow as they are maturing while Anjou pears tend to turn to a lighter green while ripening. I prefer to simply gently press on the pear to feel the flesh: it should give a little when pressing. You can also evaluate the neck of the pear where it should be soft but not mushy when perfectly ripe.
Keeping the pear on the counter at room temperature will accelerate the ripening process. If your pear seems perfectly ripe but you are not ready to make the salad, then transfer it to the fridge.
More green salad recipes you might like
I hope you like this rocket pear salad recipe as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
Pear and Rocket Salad
- 1 ripe pear - Bartlett or Anjou are great
- 3 packed cup rocket (arugula) - or a mix of arugula with spinach or lettuce
- ¼ small red onion - finely sliced
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup slivered almond (toasted) or candied pecans/walnuts - find the candied pecans recipe here
For the dressing
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar - white or regular
- 1 tbsp olive oil or tahini
- 1 tbsp maple syrup - or more to taste
- ½ tsp dijon mustard
- 1 clove of garlic - crushed
- salt and ground black pepper - to taste
- In a small bowl or a jar, combine the dressing ingredients (vinegar, tahini or oil, maple syrup, dijon, garlic and salt) and whisk or shake until smooth. Taste and add more maple syrup if needed.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the arugula, pear, red onion, cranberries and almonds. Pour about half of the dressing over and stir to combine. Adjust the amount of dressing and flavor to your preference. Enjoy right away.
- Storage: this salad is best when enjoyed right away. You can prepare the dressing ahead of time and keep in the fridge until ready to enjoy.
- Other ingredients to include are apples, vegan parmesan cheese or tofu feta cheese, pomegranate seeds, quinoa and roasted squash. Check out the blog post for more ideas!