Pear and Arugula Salad with Maple Vinaigrette and Creamy Fried Goat Cheese

This recipe has it all in terms of texture and flavor: creamy, juicy, sweet, and peppery. And yes, I’m talking about a salad.

Vertical image of two bowls with sliced pears and greens with fried goat cheese balls and nuts, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

Forget boring salads with chopped vegetables and a standard dressing. We’re getting all autumn up in here.

Let’s start with the basic ingredients: peppery arugula, juicy Bosc pears, and roasted hazelnuts.

Unlike baby spinach, which can have a slightly sweet taste, arugula has a distinctly peppery flavor that contrasts perfectly with sweeter ingredients.

In addition to flavor, arugula also brings with it a boost of nutrition, as it’s high in many vitamins and minerals including:

  • Calcium, which helps with blood clotting and muscle function in addition to bone health support.
  • Potassium, a mineral that’s essential for heart, muscle, and nerve function, and can help reduce bloating.
  • Vitamin C, an antioxidant that’s important for maintaining a healthy immune system.
  • Vitamin K, which plays a major role in blood clotting.
  • Vitamin A, an antioxidant that supports overall eye health and immune function.

On top of this nutritious leafy green, we’re adding slices of juicy Bosc pear.

While there are many types of pears, two popular ones you’ve likely seen at the grocery store are brown Bosc pears, and yellow-green Bartletts.

Vertical image of two bowls with sliced pears and greens with fried chevre balls and nuts.

Either type will work for this recipe. But I recommend going with Boscs if you can find them. Their flavor has hints of warming spices like cinnamon and nutmeg – perfect for a fall-inspired salad like this one!

For some crunch, we’re sprinkling roasted hazelnuts on top.

While you could buy pre-roasted and chopped hazelnuts, you’d be missing out on filling your kitchen with their deliciously nutty, toasted aroma.

Plus, roasting your own takes just 10 minutes, and raw hazelnuts are often cheaper than the pre-roasted kind.

Dried currants add a touch of earthy sweetness, and chewy bits of texture.

And of course, a salad isn’t complete without dressing. And we’ve got one that you’re going to want to drizzle over everything this fall: a maple vinaigrette.

Now, let’s talk about maple syrup. I beg you not to use one of those “maple” impostors sold in a plastic bottle.

Vertical image of two white bowls with sliced pears and greens with fried chevre and chopped hazelnuts.

Often labeled as “pancake syrup,” artificial maple syrups rarely contain real maple. Instead, they’re primarily made of high fructose corn syrup with some caramel coloring added in – both of which have been associated with increased inflammation and risk of several chronic diseases.

So, trust me when I say it’s worth spending some extra money on the real stuff. Not only is pure maple syrup made from just one natural ingredient, it also tastes better.

Next, let’s talk about the warm, melty goodness to top it all off: fried goat cheese.

While it’s not the healthiest ingredient in this salad, we’re keeping things on the healthier side by using avocado oil for frying, which is a heart-healthy oil that can stand up to heat better than olive oil.

Plus, we’re only using just enough to make pretty golden-brown goat cheese slices without creating something that’s dripping in oil.

Vertical close-up image of shingled pears over a bed of arugula with fried goat cheese balls.

Goat cheese is also a good source of protein, and there’s some calcium in there too. When eaten sparingly, full fat dairy products deserve a place in your healthy diet.

Frying the goat cheese does add a few extra steps, but don’t let that turn you off. Most of the time is hands-off prep while they sit in the freezer; after that, it’s just 4 minutes spent lightly frying them.

And trust me, when you take your first bite of the warm, creamy goat cheese along with the juicy pear, peppery arugula, rich hazelnuts, and sweet maple dressing, you won’t have any second thoughts about the extra prep time that’s involved.

Instead, you’ll just be thinking of how to steal the rest of those fried goat cheese slices off of your family’s plates.

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Horizontal image of Horizontal image of two white bowls with shingled fruit and chevre over fresh greens on a wooden table next to a glass of vinaigrette.

Pear and Arugula Salad with Maple Vinaigrette and Creamy Fried Goat Cheese


  • Author: Kelli McGrane
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

This Bosc pear and arugula salad with creamy fried goat cheese and maple vinaigrette is juicy, sweet, peppery, and perfect for fall.


Scale

Ingredients

For the Fried Cheese:

  • 8 ounces soft goat cheese (such as fresh chèvre)
  • 1/4 cup panko or plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil 

For the Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper 

For the Salad:

  • 1/2 cup whole raw hazelnuts (or nuts of your choice)
  • 8 cups roughly chopped arugula
  • 2 Bosc pears, sliced
  • 1/4 cup dried currants, raisins, or dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place hazelnuts on a large baking sheet in a single layer. 
  2. Roast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. 
  3. Once cooled, rub skins off of hazelnuts. With a knife or food processor, coarsely chop roasted hazelnuts and set aside.
  4. While hazelnuts are roasting, start making the fried goat cheese by placing breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Cut goat cheese into 8 slices.
  5. Press goat cheese slices into panko to cover both sides. Roll edges in panko as well, until slices are fully covered in breadcrumbs.
  6. Place on a small baking sheet and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  7. While goat cheese slices are in the freezer, assemble salad by placing 2 cups of roughly chopped arugula in each bowl. Top with pear slices, currants, and chopped roasted hazelnuts.
  8. Next, make the dressing by whisking apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl. Drizzle in olive oil in a thin stream while whisking constantly, until combined. Set aside.
  9. Heat avocado oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Add goat cheese slices and fry for 2 minutes per side, or until browned. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
  10. Place two pieces of fried goat cheese on top of each salad, drizzle dressing on top, and serve immediately.

  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Frying
  • Cuisine: Vegetarian

Keywords: arugula, salad, maple, goat cheese, pear, hazelnut

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Measure and Prep Ingredients

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Measure out all of your ingredients.

Horizontal image of various measured ingredients on a wooden table to make a fruit, cheese, and nut salad.

With the skins on, slice the pears and remove the seeds and cores. Set aside.

Roughly chop the arugula.

Step 2 – Roast Hazelnuts

Arrange hazelnuts in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Roast them for about 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted and fragrant.

Remove the pan from the oven, carefully transfer the nuts to a large plate or bowl, and allow them to cool completely.

Horizontal image of toasted and chopped hazelnuts on a cutting board.

Once they’ve cooled, rub a couple of hazelnuts at a time between your hands to remove the skins. It’s okay if you don’t get all of the skins off, but the majority should slide off easily.

Roughly chop the hazelnuts with a sharp knife, or pulse them a few times in a food processor. Set aside.

Step 3 – Coat Goat Cheese Slices

Using a sharp knife, cut your log of soft goat cheese into 8 slices of the same size.

Pour panko into a shallow bowl.

Horizontal image of a slice of goat cheese in a bowl of breading.

Place each slice of cheese in the panko one at a time, and gently turn to coat both sides and the edges.

Transfer the coated slices to a small baking tray, or place in a baking dish, without any overlap.

Horizontal image of two rows of breaded slices of fresh chevre in a glass container.

Place the baking tray in the freezer to chill for 15 minutes. This will keep your goat cheese from melting and falling apart during frying.

Step 4 – Make Dressing

While the goat cheese is in the freezer, make the dressing.

Horizontal image of a glass filled with a vinaigrette and a metal spoon on a wooden surface.

In a small bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Keep whisking while you slowly add the olive oil, to form an emulsion. Set aside.

Step 5 – Assemble Salad and Fry Goat Cheese

Place 2 cups of arugula in each bowl. Top with pear slices, currants, and roasted hazelnuts. Set aside.

Once your salads are assembled, the last step is to fry the goat cheese. You want to do this just before serving, so the goat cheese is still warm and melty when you sit down to eat it.

Horizontal image of frying breaded chevre slices in a pan with oil.

Place 1 tablespoon of avocado oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Once the oil is hot, add the goat cheese slices, making sure to leave some space between each slice. Cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Remove and set on a paper towel-lined plate to drain for 30-60 seconds before serving.

Note: if you only have a small or medium-sized pan, you may need to fry the cheese in batches.

Step 6 – Garnish with Goat Cheese

Place two fried goat cheese slices on top of each salad, drizzle dressing on top, and enjoy immediately.

Horizontal image of Horizontal image of two white bowls with shingled fruit and chevre over fresh greens on a wooden table next to a glass of vinaigrette.

So Many Ways to Get Cheesy

If frying goat cheese sounds like too much work, you can simply add crumbled goat cheese or feta cheese to this salad instead.

For a similar level of creaminess, you can also substitute the fried goat cheese for baked brie.

Horizontal image of two white bowls with shingled fruit and chevre over fresh greens on a wooden table next to a glass of vinaigrette.

Simply keep the oven at 350°F after roasting the hazelnuts. Just before serving, place brie wedges on a baking tray. Bake for 3-5 minutes, or until the centers are soft and oozing, but before the wedges totally melt.

Can’t get enough goat cheese? We can’t either! Check out some more of our favorite recipes featuring this tangy ingredient:

Do you love a seasonal salad as much as we do? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and be sure to rate this recipe before you go!

Photos by Kelli McGrane, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

The written contents of this article have been reviewed and verified by a registered dietitian for informational purposes only. This article should not be construed as personalized or professional medical advice. Foodal and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet, or using supplements or manufactured or natural medications.

About Kelli McGrane, MS, RD

Kelli McGrane is a Denver-based registered dietitian with a lifelong love of food. She holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in nutrition science from Boston University. As a registered dietitian, she believes in the importance of food to nourish not only your body, but your soul as well. Nutrition is very personal, and you won’t find any food rules here, other than to simply enjoy what you eat.

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