When you’re in charge of bringing the salad to the holidays—this arugula pear salad is the one to bring. It’s a light leafy green salad that’s flavorful, savory, and festive. Featuring juicy pears, blue cheese or goat cheese crumbles, and a savory lemon vinaigrette that ties everything together.

arugula, pears and crumbled blue cheese in a large white bowl with two serving spoons set in it

Why We Love This Arugula Pear Salad

The peppery arugula is balanced with sweet pears, funky blue cheese, and a lemony vinaigrette that’s tangy, ultra savory and even a little nutty. To make the vinaigrette I rely on a favorite method of mine—infusing the oil with lemon peel, chopped nuts, spices and a bit of shallot. This trick both infuses the oil and creates a crunchy topping for the salad. This Lemon Arugula Salad is a true crowd pleaser. 

arugula, pears and crumbled blue cheese in a large white bowl with two serving spoons set in it

Ingredients Needed for this Recipe

Arugula is the only green used in this arugula pear salad. If you prefer to blend arugula with another green consider bibb lettuce or a mix of spring lettuces. Check out our guide on how to wash and store lettuce greens!

Extra-virgin olive oil is used to cook the shallots and toast the nuts, lemon peel and shallots. The infused oil is then used for the vinaigrette. 

Lemon peel and juice are both used in this recipe. You’ll need just one lemon.

Pecans are toasted in olive oil which is then used in the vinaigrette. The toasted nuts are tossed into the salad for flavor and crunch.

Shallot is also cooked in the olive oil which is then used for the vinaigrette. The cooked shallots gets sprinkled into the salad for flavor. 

Fennel seeds are used to infuse the oil with flavor. Once cooked in the oil, they are sprinkled over the salad for small pops of flavor. 

Pear is one of the shining ingredients of this arugula pear salad. Any variety will work but I prefer a bartlett. 

Blue cheese or fresh goat cheese can be used here. Blue cheese works the best with the other flavors of the salad, but use what you like best!  

Dijon mustard is blended into the vinaigrette for flaovr and body (it emulsifies the oil and lemon juice). 

Honey adds a dose of sweetness to the savory vinaigrette. Feel free to swap it out for a splash of pure maple syrup. 

arugula, pears and crumbled blue cheese in a large white bowl with two serving spoons set in it

FAQs & Test Kitchen Tips

Can I make the arugula salad dressing and crunchy topping ahead of time?

You can make the vinaigrette and the nut and spice topping ahead of time. Let the nut and spice mixture cool completely before transferring to an airtight container. Store at room temperature for up to 1 day or in the refrigerator for 4 days. It’s likely the nuts will lose some of their crunch during storage so you may want to briefly retoast them in a skillet before serving. 
You can make and store the vinaigrette up to 4 days ahead of time. Store in a glass airtight container in the refrigerator.

I’ve made this arugula salad recipe a few times, how can I mix it up?

This simple salad is incredibly versatile! Try a different nut—instead of toasted pecans, try toasted walnuts. Swap the blue cheese for shaved parmesan cheese. Swap the lemon for orange peel and fresh orange juice.
And use thinly sliced apples or orange segments instead of the pear. Lastly, use minced red onion instead of shallot.

I have extra arugula, what should I do with it?

This arugula pear salad uses 5 ounces of fresh arugula which is the weight of most containers of arugula at the store. If you have extra, here are a few ideas!
Because arugula is so peppery, I love to use it to make an arugula pesto. It’s also great tossed into a creamy veggie-packed pasta. Or toss it with some cooked lentils and serve over garlicky yogurt.

More Salad Recipes to Love…

  • Make our Salmon Caesar Salad—it’s the ideal weeknight din!
  • Our Green Goddess Salad is another one of my favorites. It also pairs well with salmon.
  • If you’re looking for another entree-style salad, check out our Tuna Nicoise. It’s perfect for weeknights as well. 
  • Our Celery Salad is super simple and deliciously crunchy!
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arugula, pears and crumbled blue cheese in a large white bowl with two serving spoons set in it

Arugula Pear Salad with Toasted Lemon Vinaigrette

  • Author: Lauren Grant
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free


A stunning arugula salad featuring a crunchy nut topping, juicy pears, blue cheese crumbles, and a delicious toasted lemon and pecan vinaigrette.


  • 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped shallot
  • ½ cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Flaky sea salt, kosher salt and black pepper
  • 5 ounces arugula
  • 1 red or green pear, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces blue cheese or goat cheese, crumbled


  1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel four 3-inch strips of lemon peel, making sure to avoid white pith; reserve lemon for later. Add lemon peels to a small skillet with oil and shallot.
    shallot, lemon peels and oil in a skillet
  2. Heat skillet over medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallot starts to brown and lemon peels start to curl and toast, about 3 minutes.

    chopped pecans in a skillet with oil and lemon peels

  3. Add pecans and cook, stirring frequently, until pecans are browned, 3–4 minutes. Off heat, stir in fennel seeds and let rest 2 minutes.
    toasted nuts and spices in a skillet with oil and lemon peels
  4. Strain oil through a fine mesh sieve set over a small liquid measuring cup.
  5. Spread nut and spice mixture onto a plate and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
    nuts, spices and lemon peels on a white plate
  6. Once cool enough to handle, mince lemon peels and add back to nut and spice mixture.
  7. Juice reserved lemon and add 2 tablespoons lemon juice, Dijon and honey to measuring cup with infused oil; whisk to combine then season with kosher salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Arrange arugula and pear slices on a large platter or serving bowl. Sprinkle blue cheese and toasted nut and spice mixture over salad. Drizzle vinaigrette over top and serve.


Dairy Free: skip the cheese.

Vegan: skip the cheese and use maple syrup in the vinaigrette instead of honey.

Keywords: Arugula pear salad, Lemon arugula salad, Arugula salad dressing

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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