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Pear and Rocket Salad with Walnuts

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Fresh and peppery rocket leaves, sweet pears, and crunchy walnuts make the base of this delicious pear and rocket salad.

It’s topped with shaved parmesan and tangy balsamic reduction. This simple salad is a powerhouse of flavor and vitamins.

green salad in a bowl with tongs in background.

Rocket, also known as arugula or roquette is a leafy green with a peppery flavor and slightly nutty taste. It’s an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and calcium and brings heaps of flavors and nutrients to this salad.

There are more healthy ingredients too! It’s coupled with juicy pear, salty parmesan, and crunchy walnuts – this salad is a myriad of textures and flavors.

It’s all brought together with a simple salad dressing made of good quality olive oil and balsamic reduction.

It makes a perfect side dish for your main meal.

What is balsamic reduction?

A balsamic reduction (otherwise known as a balsamic glaze) is simply balsamic vinegar that has been reduced down into a glaze. This concentrates the flavors, brings out the natural sweetness, and slightly thickens the vinegar. It’s delicious on salad!

You can buy store-bought balsamic reduction, or make your own. See how to make the balsamic reduction.

If you don’t have balsamic reduction and you don’t want to make your own, you can use balsamic vinegar instead. This brings a sharper taste to the salad.

The salad ingredients

Here is what you need for this easy rocket pear salad recipe. You only need a handful of ingredients! The actual amounts are listed in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  • Rocket leaves/arugula leaves. Choose baby rocket leaves if you can, these more delicate leaves are milder and slightly sweeter than mature rocket.
  • Pears – Any fresh pear variety can go in this salad but choose pears that are still crisp and avoid over-ripe pear as they tend to be mushy. You want the crisp texture of the pear. Varieties like beurre bosc pears, comice pears, and bartlett pears are a more crunchy pear variety, perfect for this salad. The sweetness of the pear is amazing with the peppery rocket.
  • Walnuts – gently toasted, crunchy walnut halves bring great texture.
  • Parmesan cheese – If you’re a cheese lover you’ll know how good parmesan is in a salad! Shaved parmesan brings saltiness to the salad. If you prefer a different cheese, salty goat cheese or fried halloumi works well too.
  • Extra virgin olive oil – Good quality extra-virgin olive oil helps lift the other flavors in the salad.
  • Balsamic reduction
  • Salt and pepper to taste
a hand placing parmesan on salad.

Method

Wash the rocket leaves and cool water and place them in a colander or a salad spinner to drain. If you have no salad spinner, gently pat the leaves dry with a clean kitchen towel.

Add the salad leaves to a large bowl.

In a dry skillet over medium heat, add the walnuts and gently toast them for 4-5 minutes until toasted and slightly fragrant. Let them cool to room temperature.

Wash the pears, core them and use a sharp knife or mandolin cut them into thin slices. There is no need to peel them unless you want to. Spread the pear slices over the rocket leaves.

a hand dropping pears onto salad.

Thinly shave strips of parmesan cheese using a vegetable peeler. Add these to the salad, followed by the cooled walnuts.

In a small glass jar, add the balsamic reduction and olive oil. Add a lid to the jar and give it a shake to combine the oil and vinegar. Don’t worry if it doesn’t properly combine, it’s just enough to drizzle the two over the salad evenly.

Use salad tongs to gently toss the salad together to coat everything in the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste

a hand pouring dressing from a jar.

Serving the rocket side salad

Once the salad is dressed, it’s best to serve it as soon as possible to avoid rocket wilting. Store leftover salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Making in advance

This salad is very quick to whip up so there isn’t much advantage to making it ahead of time, though there are some components that can be pre-prepared.

  • If you are making your own balsamic reduction you will need around 15 minutes to make it and let it cool.
  • Toast the walnuts ahead of time.
  • The rocket leaves can be washed and dried ahead of time. Once dried, store them in a sealed bag or airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Don’t cut the pear ahead of time as it will oxidize. If you do need to cut it in advance, sprinkle over a little lemon juice to stop it from browning.
a bowl of rocket and pear salad.

Other uses for rocket/arugula

Eat rocket raw in salads, toss through pasta, or add into pestos and sauces. It has a distinctly peppery flavor, which makes it a good substitute for basil in pesto (a Mediterranean sauce often made with olive oil and pine nuts).

Rocket is also an excellent pizza topping – just make sure to add it after the pizza has come from the oven because it tends to burn easily. When you’re looking for something easy to eat on the go, rocket works well in sandwiches and omelets too.

More salad recipes

green salad in a bowl with tongs in background.

Rocket and Pear Salad

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Fresh and peppery rocket leaves, sweet pears, and crunchy walnuts make the base of this delicious salad.

Ingredients

  • 130g/6 cups/4 oz baby rocket (arugula) leaves, cleaned and dried
  • 50g (1/2 cup) walnut halves
  • 1 large pear (beurre bosc, bartlett, d'anjou...)
  • 15g/.5oz parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic reduction (or you can use balsamic vinegar)
  • 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Add the rocket leaves to a large salad bowl.
  2. In a dry skillet over medium heat, add the walnuts and gently toast them for 4-5 minutes until toasted and slightly fragrant. Let them cool to room temperature.
  3. Wash the pears, core them and use a sharp knife or mandolin cut them into thin slices. There is no need to peel them unless you want to. Spread the pear slices over the rocket leaves.
  4. Thinly shave strips of parmesan cheese using a vegetable peeler. Add these to the salad, followed by the cooled walnuts.
  5. In a small glass jar, add the balsamic reduction and olive oil. Add a lid to the jar and give it a shake to combine the oil and vinegar. Don't worry if it doesn't properly combine, it's just enough to drizzle the two over the salad evenly.
  6. Use salad tongs to gently toss the salad together to coat everything in the dressing.
  7. Sprinkle over salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste.
  8. Once the salad is dressed, it's best to serve it as soon as possible to avoid the rocket wilting. Leftover salad can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 233Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 140mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 3gSugar: 8gProtein: 3g

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