Apple, Pear and Chicken Arugula Salad
The best arugula salad balances the spicy flavor of greens with sweet apples and pears and tender chicken for blood sugar balancing protein. Homemade dressing makes this salad a powerful, healthy meal your body will thrive on.Jump to Recipe
There’s a false belief out there that whatever dinner you make at home has to be as complicated as something from a fine restaurant or studded with elaborate garnishes.
Even for me–someone who cooks and shares with you for a living–our food is simple.
But I have one main goal: To nourish my family and make every bite healthy and I want to help you do the same.
This simple arugula salad is proof that dinner can come together really fast. Use the chicken of your choice (we’ll talk about that in a bit) and a homemade dressing and dinner is done fast.
What does arugula taste like?
Arugula is a tender green that has a stronger flavor than lettuce. It’s peppery and a tiny bit bitter. The leaves are much smaller than regular lettuces and are most tender when they are small.
If you find the flavor too strong, feel free to blend your arugula with some mixed greens or other mild lettuces.
Is arugula salad healthy?
Yes. This one is an amazing source of protein from the chicken and when you make your dressing with a good quality olive oil you get plenty of heart healthy fats.
Arugula is also high in glutathione which helps your liver detoxify.
Choosing the right chicken
We’re going to assume here that you have chosen the type of cooked chicken you want to use here and that it’s already cooked.
I have a few favorites including a simple skillet chicken breast recipe you can cook up in about 20 minutes or an amazing vinegar brined version if you have time to marinate it first.
When choosing chicken, my goal is to use the best I can find. A lot of regular chicken at the grocery has been pumped full of salt water to make it look bigger (up to 20% in some brands!) and dipped in bleach before it comes to you at the store.
That makes the meat tough and yet mushy at the same time. It’s really gross stuff.
Organic or pastured
The next best choice after conventional chicken is organic. Even though these chickens still don’t see the light of day, it might be a tad better than the regular stuff.
Best is pastured chicken. These birds are raised on bugs and fresh air and fresh water. They are healthier and processed without bleach, or injected salt water solutions. You can expect to pay $15 to $22 for a whole chicken but I think it’s worth it.
Places to buy pastured chicken include Pasture Bird, Farm Food, or Butcher Box. You may be able to find them locally if you check your farmer’s market.
The problem with rotisserie chicken
Rotisserie chicken is among the most deceptive products in your grocery store today. Conventional chicken is pumped full of preservatives, sodium, sugar, and additives to make it tender and change the flavor.
Absolutely buy whatever you can afford–but just know that rotisserie chicken is one food you should be working to eliminate from your diet.
The best dressing for arugula salad is homemade
I wish I could tell you that any dressing on your grocery store shelf was good for your body. Just about every single one you can buy pre made has at least one inflammatory seed oil. Those could be:
Even with an organic label, these oils are loaded with toxins you should avoid at all costs. That means you’ll need to make your dressing at home using a good quality oil. My favorites are olive or avocado oil.
But good news! It’s the simplest thing ever. For this dressing you’ll need:
- Maple syrup
- White wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
You can also add a teaspoon or so of brown or dijon mustard, shallots or minced garlic to your dressing if you’d like more flavor.
Add on ideas for arugula salads
The peppery flavor of arugula holds up well to a lot of different proteins and flavors. Some family favorites to try include:
- grilled shrimp
- thinly sliced flank steak
- blue cheese crumbles
- chunks of parmesan cheese
- toasted pistachios
- roasted tomatoes or sun dried
- sliced cucumbers
Can arugula salads with chicken be made ahead?
Yes! You can assemble the components with cold chicken and no dressing a few hours ahead. Toss the sliced apples and pears in a bit of lemon juice to prevent browning. You can also assemble all the fruit and vegetables then cook the chicken right before serving. Adding hot chicken to the greens will cause them to wilt slightly.
What’s the best chicken recipe to serve?
I have some favorites so I want you to choose! Any of these would be a great addition to your salad.
- Vinegar brined grilled chicken
- Spatchcock baked chicken
- Pan seared Old Bay chicken breasts
- How to make shredded chicken in the oven
Apple, Pear and Arugula Salad
- 1/3 cup cashews raw or sprouted
- 5 ounces arugula
- 1 medium apple thinly sliced
- 1 Anjou pear thinly sliced
- 2 medium cooked chicken breasts grilled or pan fried, See Note 1 for ideas
For the Dressing
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- pinch salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup olive oil good quality
- In a small skillet, add the cashews and carefully heat the skillet over medium low heat. Toss the cashews constantly until they begin to smell fragrant and get a few brown spots on them. No need to add oil or fat to the pan. Once toasted, turn off the heat and transfer the nuts to a plate to cool.
- If you're cooking your own chicken, do that now and let it rest while you assemble the salad.
- In 4 individual salad bowls or plates, divide the arugula.
- Core but don't peel the apple and pear and slice very thinly. Add 1/4 of each fruit to each salad.
- Add the cashews, dividing them between each bowl.
- Slice or chop the chicken and add it to the bowls. It's fine if it's a little warm, but this is also great with cold chicken.
- In a small bowl add the maple syrup, white wine vinegar, and salt and pepper. While whisking constantly add the oil in a slow steady stream. Let guests pour their desired amount over their salads at the table. You will have dressing left over.