This Caramelized Pear Arugula Salad is a show-stopper with fresh greens, pan-roasted pears, ruby red pomegranates, thin slivers of sweet white onion and butter-roasted pecans. The delicious honey cider dressing ties it all together.
This was not the recipe I had planned for today. In fact, you'll probably laugh when you hear how this Caramelized Pear Arugula Salad came about. It's sometimes a little crazy what inspires me to create a new recipe.
This one came about during a routine grocery shopping jaunt. I was wandering through the produce department, checking off my list when I passed by the greens/lettuces section. Even if greens aren't on my list, I always inspect this area to see if there's anything particularly fresh and appealing. So often I'm disappointed with wilted, past-prime greens, but not this time.
I did a double-take when I saw the baby arugula. It was truly baby arugula; tiny, tender and so fresh looking. I quickly snatched up one of the big boxes and my mind started swirling with ideas for a new salad. I back-tracked through the produce department and spotted some really pretty red pears and a gorgeous pomegranate. I also threw a sweet white onion in my cart and a bag of pecans.
And that was the conception of this Caramelized Pear Arugula Salad. I put all my ideas together and made this salad for dinner that evening. I've served it many times since and everyone seems to love it. I mean really, what's not to love in a salad with tender baby arugula, glistening caramelized pears, ruby red pomegranates, crisp slices of sweet white onion, buttery toasty pecans and a fabulous honey creamy cider poppyseed dressing. It's really the perfect salad for this time of year!
How do you caramelize pears?
It's WAY easier than it sounds and will only take a few minutes. But when you bring out this Caramelized Pear Arugula Salad, those pears will bring lots of oohs and aahs, for sure!
This is how simple the process is:
- Slice each pear in half.
- Slice each half in wedges, one-half to one-third-inch thick.
- Trim off any seeds from the edges. You don't have to trim off much as the core will soften and melt as the pears roast.
- Sprinkle the slices with a simple mixture of cinnamon and sugar.
- Melt a pat of butter in a sauté pan till it sizzles a bit.
- Add the pears and let the magic begin.
- Let them go for a few minutes, then check the underside. It will take 3-4 minutes for them to transform into golden and gorgeous. wedges of deliciousness!
- At this point flip them over, remove them from the heat and you're done!
Butter roasted pecans sound fancy!
They do, but again, they come together easily with just 3 ingredients and a stint in the oven. Before you do anything else, preheat your oven to 300˚F. Line a sheet pan with foil for easy cleanup then combine the pecans, butter and salt together on the prepared pan. Pop the whole thing in the oven, stir it up a few times and 20 minutes later a delicious toasty, nutty aroma will fill your kitchen and a pan of golden, buttery pecans will be ready for your salad.
Because both the pears and dressing for this salad are somewhat sweet, the buttery, salty pecans are a perfect pairing!
Don't be intimidated by pomegranates!
One of the delicious highlights of this salad is a scatter of beautiful jewel-hued pomegranates. I don't know about you, but I went through many years of being intimidated about removing the seeds from a pomegranate. If I was desperate, I'd purchase the ones that were already prepped, but I always felt like I had to rob a bank to afford them.
Then one day, I learned a fabulous, super easy hack for removing the seeds from a pomegranate. Now, I use them with great abandon and love, not just their incredible beauty, but what great nutritional benefits these little ruby-hued, glistening seeds add to our diet. They're considered one of the healthiest fruits on earth and, according to Healthline, are loaded with fiber, vitamin C and K along with potassium and are a rich source of antioxidants and SO much more!
Check out that easy hack and see for yourself:
Makes a delicious side or complete meal!
Although this salad is pictured on its own and makes a wonderful side for so many entrees, it can also be a complete meal by simply adding some leftover or rotisserie chicken, sliced steak, or a pan-seared filet of salmon.
Whether you're entertaining friends or simply enjoying a cozy evening at home, put this Caramelized Pear Arugula Salad on your menu soon! It's definitely one of those salads that everyone will enjoy! Bon Appétit!
Café Tips for making this Caramelized Pear Arugula Salad
- This salad calls for red pears but I have also used Bosc pears with delicious results.
- This Caramelized Pear Arugula Salad is super versatile. Don't have or don't care for pomegranates? Just skip them. You could add a handful of dried cranberries instead or even golden raisins. No pecans? Slow roasted buttered walnuts would also be delicious as would slow roasted buttered almonds. Just sub your favorite nut or whatever you have available for the pecans.
- You'll have more pecans and dressing than you need for this salad. I actually like to make a double batch of each when I make this salad as both are so versatile and nice to have on hand. The dressing goes so well with many other salads. I use it with any kind of greens topped with apples, clementines, red grapes or orange wedges. I add some sliced red or white onion and a handful of the slow-roasted butter pecans for a quick, easy and delicious salad on the run.
- While the Honey Cider Poppy Seed Dressing called for in this salad is delicious on its own, I like to change things up a bit and combine it with a little Greek yogurt for a creamy tangy twist.
- Although I love baby arugula in this salad, I find that sometimes the arugula at my local grocery doesn't look that great. If it's starting to wilt or the leaves are large and coarse, just look for another variety of greens. I've been finding some really pretty local spring mixes and artisan hydroponic greens recently. If you shop at a little larger grocery store you may be surprised at some of the new varieties they are now carrying.
Thought for the day:
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart!
I have overcome the world.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear other’s results and ideas for variations.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup pecan halves
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Honey Cider Poppyseed Dressing
- 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt optional
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 medium red pears
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 6 ounces arugula
- ½ medium white onion sliced in thin wedges
- ⅓ cup pomegranate arils
Preheat oven to 275˚F. Line a sheet pan or smaller shallow pan with foil. Layout several thicknesses of paper towels on a work surface near the oven.
Combine the pecans and butter on the prepared sheet pan. Place in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir well to coat the pecans with the butter. Sprinkle with the kosher salt and stir again. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Remove from the oven and transfer to the paper towels to cool. Store any extra pecans in an airtight container.
Prepare the Honey Cider Poppyseed Dressing as directed. Add 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt (if desired). Cover the jar and shake until creamy and well combined.
Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside
Cut the pears in half and then into ½-⅓-inch wedges. Trim the inner edges to remove any of the seeds.
Place the pears in a single layer on a dinner plate. Sprinkle both sides with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Melt the butter in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. When melted and bubbly add the pears and cook undisturbed for 2-4 minutes until the underside is golden and beginning to caramelize. Flip to the other size and turn off the heat. Allow to cool slightly while you prepare the rest of the salad.
Arrange arugula on a serving platter. Top with the caramelized pears, onion slices, pomegranates and pecans. Drizzle with the dressing or serve dressing separately at the table.
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips.
Nutritional Information includes using half of the pecans and does not include salad dressing. See that post for nutritional information.