Autumn Arugula House Salad with Fig Vinaigrette.
This autumn arugula house salad is my signature fall salad when the temperatures start to drop. Peppery arugula with thinly sliced apples and dried cherries, all drizzled in a delicious fig vinaigrette and topped with crumbled goat cheese and spiced pecans. So crunchy, crisp and delicious!
Simple is best when it comes to this fall salad.
Arugula greens are topped with honey crisp apples, dried cherries, spiced pecans and goat cheese. Everything is drizzled in a fig vinaigrette and this whole plate is filled with crisp, refreshing crunch and savory, sweet flavor.
It’s no secret that I love a good trashed up salad, but this is not that! This is a simple, somewhat classic house salad that is perfect to serve in the fall. The ingredients complement many other dishes so it’s an excellent starter salad. It’s also a wonderful base to use for chicken, salmon, beans and more.
And it’s customizable, based on what you have. You can swap the cherries for cranberries. The pecans for just about any other nut. The goat cheese for feta or even cheddar. The options are pretty endless!
This salad is based on one that we had on vacation this past summer at Bay Harbor – sitting out on the patio and enjoying the wonderful view. Even though it was the middle of summer, this salad had all of these ingredients – PLUS berries. It was simple but so wonderful!
I removed the berries for the sake of the season. And I almost added blue cheese instead, because my parents got crumbled blue cheese on theirs and it was incredible. So those are a few other options.
Let’s talk about what this salad DOES have.
Arugula! I like to use some baby arugula or spring greens for the base of this. They are so soft, peppery and crisp.
Dried tart cherries. I will choose cherries over cranberries everyday, but it’s the season for all the fall things. If cranberries are your favorite, go for it.
Honey crisp apples, because there is nothing that screams FALL more than honey crisp. Yum.
Crumbled goat cheese. I just adore goat cheese in salads, because it’s super creamy and almost melts into the greens. I love the tang it adds as well.
Finally, spiced pecans! These pecans are toasted in a skillet with brown sugar and chipotle chili powder for a little heat. I toast them until the sugar melts over the heat and covers the pecans. This is my favorite way to make any sort of candied nut. I could eat these by the handful.
Now for my favorite part: the dressing.
This fig vinaigrette is EVERYTHING I want a dressing to be.
I took a page out of my own cookbook, Everyday Dinners, where I share a jam vinaigrette. I’ve shared this before with a few other flavors of jam and it’s an easy, incredible way to make a dressing! I am not sure how Bay Harbor made their fig dressing, but this one uses fig preserves. And that’s not only easy, but incredibly delicious!
I live for fig preserves – they are my go-to on a cheese board and I adore them on toast too. And now, they make the best dressing.
So that is how this wonderful little fall salad comes together! Make it your signature autumn salad, plan on it for Thanksgiving or even before Halloween chili.
Autumn Arugula House Salad
Autumn Arugula House Salad with Fig Vinaigrette
- ½ cup whole pecans
- 1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- kosher salt and pepper
- 6 to 8 cups baby arugula and/or spring greens
- kosher salt and pepper
- 1 honeycrisp apple thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup dried tart cherries or cranberries
- 2 to 3 ounces goat cheese crumbled
- To make the pecans, heat the pecans in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in the sugar, chili powder and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the sugar melts and is caramely, coating all of the pecans - about 6 to 8 minutes. Don’t take your eyes off of this as they can burn quickly! Transfer the pecans to a piece of parchment paper to let them cool. Break them into pieces if they are clumped - you can also chop them too.
- To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the vinegar, preserves, garlic, red pepper flakes and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. This can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container for about a week!
- To assemble the salad, toss the greens with a big pinch of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Top with the thinly sliced apple, tart cherries, goat cheese and pecans. Drizzle all over with the dressing! Serve!