Arugula and Pear Salad with Toasted Walnuts is beautiful in its simplicity. I originally developed this recipe for the luscious Warren Pear but it will work with any pear sturdy enough for slicing and tossing with greens. (First published Nov 2011, update February 2020.)
Fall for the Warren Pear in this Easy Autumn Salad
Just as I was pouting over the loss of our favorite summer berries, I received an email asking me to consider trying the Warren Pear from Frog Hollow Farm. Frog Hollow Farm made it an easy decision, knowing their reputation for providing local, organic fruit, especially stone fruits like peaches.
My friend Elaine Wu, a food writer, described these pears as tasting like "buttah". Really? A pear? The build up was big so I feared the reality might disappoint. Happily, it did not.
It is one of the loveliest pears I have every bitten into - none of that mealiness we often find in a Bartlett. It explodes in your mouth with juicy smoothness but a heartiness you won't find in a Bartlett. Other pear varieties like D'anjou and Bosc can compete on heartiness for salad making but not on texture, flavor, and juice.
The pear is named after its founder - Thomas Oscar Warren and has not caught on commercially because it is difficult to grow. Frog Hollow is one of the few commercial growers of it in the country. Its origin is Mississippi.
Arugula and Pear Salad with Toasted Walnuts
Truthfully, we really just wanted to eat them all plain. It almost seemed a shame to create a dessert or other course when we could just cut them up and devour. But I adore fall salads with toasty nuts, hearty cheeses, and spicy greens like arugula. So I came up with this yummy salad that is easy enough to prepare anytime, elegant enough for a dinner party, and flexible enough to modify to meet your dinner theme or family's tastes.
Can I Make Substitutions in this Salad?
You can definitely use other types of pears for this salad - try Bosc or Red or D'anjou or even a Bartlett if it is firm enough. You can even sub in other fruits - try a crispy apple, for example.
You can also be creative with the greens - but I would stick with soft greens and not something like crispy kale.
For the nuts, try pecans or pine nuts or even hazelnuts or pistachios.
And for the cheese, something blue is terrific but goat cheese would work as would some shards of parmesan.
What to Serve with this Pear Salad
Change the dressing to Pomegranate Molasses Salad Dressing.
Try this super simple Lemony Flank Steak.
Or this Roasted Chicken with Clementines.
Or go for soup and salad with this Roasted Butternut Squash Soup.
Supplies for Making Arugula and Pear Salad
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Arugula and Pear Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Gorgonzola, and Lemon Thyme Olive Oil DressingBeth Lee
- 10 oz. Arugula or Mixed Greens with arugula
- 1 Warren Pear or other firm style of pear
- ⅓ cup crumbled gorgonzola, blue cheese, or sliced parmesan
- ⅓ cup toasted walnuts or pecans*
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- *You can toast nuts by placing on a baking sheet in a toaster oven or in a regular oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them – they go from deliciously toasty to burnt rather quickly.
- Slice the pear, skin on, into bite size pieces. Place greens on 4 salad plates, top with crumbled cheese, nuts, and pear. Salt and pepper the salad to taste.
- For dressing, combine the fresh thyme, lemon juice, and zest in a small bowl, then whisk in the olive oil to combine. Be sure to taste - my amounts are approximate and depend on the size and juiciness of your lemon and flavor of your olive oil. Add salt and pepper, taste again, then dress each salad and enjoy!
Note: I received the pears for tasting for free from Frog Hollow Farm but received no compensation or input for writing this blog post. The opinions are entirely my own.