Arugula, Apple, and Walnut Salad

Arugula, Apple, and Walnut Salad
Peppery arugula, tart apple, and sweet-tangy balsamic combine into a fresh, balanced salad, finished with walnuts and milky ricotta salata. (Giulia Scarpaleggia)

This salad is perched between winter and spring, with arugula’s peppery hot notes tamed by slices of tart apple and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Walnuts are a perfect complement to arugula and add a pleasant crunchy note.

I shower the salad with ricotta salata, aged ricotta. The smoked variety is typical of the Veneto region, but otherwise, it’s very common in the Italian South, especially in Puglia and Sicily. I find it a versatile cheese that you can grate over salad or pasta (I love it with orecchiette and a fresh tomato sauce), mix into a stuffing, or even thinly slice and serve as an appetizer along with jam or chutney. It has a milky, savory flavor, and it can be substituted with grated Pecorino Romano or provolone.

Serve this salad as a side to a grilled steak or rack of lamb, or even simply with a milky ball of mozzarella, along with a few slices of crusty bread.

Serves 4 as a side dish or appetizer
  • 7 ounces arugula
  • 1 handful walnuts
  • 1 tart apple
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Flaky sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated ricotta salata, or pecorino Romano
Rinse the arugula under running water and dry it thoroughly, either with a kitchen towel or in a salad spinner. Collect it into a large bowl.

Lightly toast the walnuts in a pan on medium heat for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board. When enough cool to handle, chop finely with a knife. Peel, core, and thinly slice the apple.

Add the walnuts to the salad along with the apple slices, then toss with extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Finish with the grated ricotta salata and serve immediately.

Giulia Scarpaleggia is a Tuscan-born and bred food writer, food photographer, and author of five cookbooks, including “From the Markets of Tuscany.” She is currently working on her sixth cookbook. Find her online at her blog,
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