This arugula goat cheese salad is simple but a symphony of flavor! Apples, pecans and balsamic dressing make perfection on a plate.

Goat Cheese Salad

I don’t know about you, but we’re always in search of the perfect back pocket salad. You know, the one that’s easy enough to whip up on moments notice? The one that takes little effort but delivers massive flavor? Here’s one that’s on our new favorite back pocket concept: the Goat Cheese Salad with Arugula and Apples! It’s simple and comes together quickly, but my does it deliver on flavor! The crunch of the apples, creamy goat cheese, and fluffy arugula are the ideal pair for the tangy sweet dressing. We couldn’t stop eating this one! It’s a riff on some of our other salads, but it might be the best of the lot.

Ingredients in this arugula goat cheese salad

Goat cheese is one of our favorite ingredients for a salad, because it adds a creamy richness to every bite! Here are the elements that come together to make this salad a symphony of flavor:

  • Goat cheese: Soft goat cheese or chevre is best here, though you can use the pre-packaged crumbles as well
  • Baby arugula: Make sure to get baby arugula; standard arugula is much too spicy
  • Apple: A crisp red apple is best, though you can use a Granny Smith as well
  • Shallot: A shallot is a milder version of a red onion, and completes the flavor
  • Pecans: Substitute in any nut you’d like, or see below on how to step up the flavor
  • Balsamic dressing: This creamy balsamic dressing is our go-to, but you can use others too (see below)
Arugula goat cheese salad

Best salad dressing, and a few alternatives

Our favorite vinaigrette for this goat cheese salad is our Creamy Balsamic Dressing. It’s got just the right sweet tart flavor and creamy, emulsified texture. All you need is balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, and olive oil: and it comes together in a breeze! Memorize it and you’ll have a dressing for all of your future salads; it’s our best loved salad dressings in this house!

But looking to mix it up? There are a few other vinaigrettes we love that pair with a goat cheese salad. Here’s what we’d recommend:

Step up the pecans: toast them or glaze them!

Want to make this salad really pop? When we’re making this goat cheese salad with arugula on a weeknight, we use plain nuts. But for entertaining, there are two ways to really make this salad sparkle:

  • Toast the nuts. A quick toast in the oven or in a skillet makes a huge difference: it really brings out the nutty flavor. Try Toasted Pecans, Toasted Walnuts or Toasted Almonds.
  • Glaze the nuts. Even better: make Glazed Pecans! Throw them in a pan with maple syrup and caramelize them: when they dry, they’ll be sweet and crunchy on the outside. Also try Glazed Walnuts.
Balsamic dressing

Variations on this goat cheese salad

There are infinite variations on this goat cheese salad with arugula: just swap in different fruits, veggies, or nuts to make variations of all kinds! Here are a few options:

  • Use different nuts, like walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts or pistachios
  • Make a pear goat cheese salad with sliced pears
  • Make a beet goat cheese salad with roasted beets (it’s easiest with pre-cooked packaged beets from the store, or roast your own)
  • Use berries instead, like blueberries, blackberries, or strawberries
  • Swap fruit for veggies, like carrots (raw or roasted) or roasted sweet potatoes
  • Use different leafy greens, like baby mixed greens, spinach, or shaved Brussels sprouts

You readers always have the best ideas! So let us know the ways you’ve customized this salad.

Goat Cheese Salad

Goat cheese vs cows cheese

Did you know goat cheese is slightly healthier than a standard cow’s cheese, like Parmesan or mozzarella? Here’s a little breakdown on how it compares (source: Prevention):

  • More vitamins and minerals than cow’s cheese. Goat’s milk is richer in essential nutrients than cow’s milk. It has more vitamin A & B, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium.
  • Slightly less calories than cow’s cheese. Goat cheese has just 75 calories per ounce—less than cow cheeses like mozzarella (85 calories), Swiss (108 calories), and cheddar (115 calories).
  • May be easier to digest. Goat cheese has less lactose than cow’s milk and a slightly different protein structure, so people who are lactose intolerant many times can digest goat cheese.

This goat cheese salad with arugula recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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Arugula Goat Cheese Salad

Goat Cheese Salad with Arugula & Apple


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This arugula goat cheese salad is simple but a symphony of flavor! Apples, pecans and balsamic dressing make perfection on a plate.


Ingredients

Scale

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, make the dressing.
  2. Thinly slice the apple and shallot.
  3. Place the greens on a plate. Top with the sliced shallot, apple, pecans, and crumbles of soft goat cheese. Drizzle with dressing and top with a sprinkle of sea salt.

Notes

*Standard arugula has much too spicy of a flavor; look for the small baby arugula leaves like you see in the photo. It comes packaged in the produce section near the greens, or may be available at your local farmer’s market. 

  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Salad
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean

Keywords: Arugula goat cheese salad

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Sonja and Alex, I found you via Pinterest. Wonderful site!

    I love this dependable arugula and goat cheese salad. I like all kinds of arugula btw.. the bitter kind too!

    The apples and pecans are a great, tasty standard approach but I love the idea of blueberries or strawberries instead of apples! Would you do some other nut with these instead?

    Thanks!!

    1. Any nuts work with berries too! Good options are pecans, walnuts, almonds, pistachios or hazelnuts. Hope you enjoy!