This blue cheese salad is topped with apples, walnuts, and cranberries for an explosion of wonderful flavors and textures. Toss with a homemade maple mustard dressing for the perfect accompaniment to any fall meal.
Why you will love this blue cheese salad
Say hello to the fall salad of my dreams! So many textures and flavors. Every single bite is packed with deliciousness.
All of the ingredients are readily available - and many have substitution options, so you can create the salad of your dreams too!
This arugula salad is so easy to pull together. The from-scratch vinaigrette comes together with a handful of ingredients that are likely already in your pantry.
This salad is fancy enough for special occasions or holidays, but it's also casual enough to enjoy as an easy lunch or weeknight dinner.
For another seasonal salad favorite, try Brussels Sprouts and Kale Salad.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Arugula adds a peppery bite which pairs well with the other bold ingredients. You can swap out the arugula for other greens such as kale, romaine, or red-leaf lettuce.
- Blue Cheese provides a creamy and tangy bite that pairs well with the other ingredients. Castello Danish blue cheese is my favorite. If you're not a fan of the pungent flavor of blue cheese, you can use Goat cheese or Feta cheese instead.
- Apples add a crisp fresh bite and beautiful color. Choose your favorite - Granny Smith, Gala, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, or Golden Delicious are all great options. Pears can also be used.
- Red onion - Use a mandolin to cut the onion into very thin slices so the onion isn't too overpowering. For a milder onion flavor, use shallots instead.
- Walnuts or pecans - Nuts add great texture and toasting them enhances their flavor in a wonderful way. Walnuts and pecans are my favorite, but pistachios and almonds can also be used.
- Dried cranberries or cherries provide a wonderfully sweet, chewiness to this salad. You can also add dried apricots.
- Vinaigrette - This dressing features basic ingredients and couldn't be easier to whip up. I like adding delicatessen-style mustard but you can also use Dijon.
See the recipe card for complete instructions and ingredient amounts.
- Add the dressing ingredients to a mason jar and shake well. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, add the arugula and most of the onions, cranberries, and walnuts (reserving some for the top).
- Drizzle half of the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
- Transfer the salad to a serving plate or bowl. Top with the apple slices, blue cheese, and the rest of the onions, cranberries, and walnuts. Drizzle with more dressing or serve the extra on the side.
- Assemble this salad shortly before serving. Add the apples and the vinaigrette right before serving. I like to dress the salad with half of the dressing and serve the remaining on the side.
- To prepare ahead of time, combine everything except the apples, blue cheese, and the dressing. Arrange on a serving platter, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator. Then, right before serving, arrange the apples and blue cheese on top and add the vinaigrette.
- Toast the nuts before assembling the salad. Toasting enhances their flavor and it only takes a few minutes. Place the nuts in a skillet set over medium-low heat. Warm until the nuts are fragrant. If you have a few extra minutes, this step is worthwhile.
Blue cheese pairs wonderfully with fruit such as apples, figs, and pears. Jams, chutneys, and honey are also delicious.
Blue cheese and beef are a classic combination. The strong, pungent flavor of blue cheese balances the rich, beefy flavor of steak beautifully. Try topping steak with blue cheese sauce or blue cheese butter or top a juicy burger with blue cheese and caramelized onions.
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Blue Cheese Salad with Arugula, Apples, and Walnuts
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil (or similar)
- 1 teaspoon delicatessen-style mustard (or Dijon)
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- ⅛ teaspoon Kosher salt (or to taste)
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
- 5 ounces baby arugula
- ½ cup thinly-sliced red onion
- ⅓ cup walnuts or pecans ( lightly toasted)
- ⅓ cup dried cherries or cranberries
- ½ gala apple (or similar, sliced thin)
- ½ granny smith apple (or similar, sliced thin)
- 2 ounces blue cheese (crumbled)
- Add the dressing ingredients to a mason jar. Shake well. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the arugula and most of the red onions, walnuts, and cranberries (reserving some of each for the top of the salad). Drizzle half of the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.
- Transfer the salad to a serving platter or shallow bowl. Arrange the apple slices on the salad. Add the rest of the onions, walnuts, and cranberries. Add the blue cheese. Drizzle with more dressing or serve the extra on the side.
- It's best to assemble this salad shortly before serving. Add the apples and the vinaigrette right before serving. I like to dress the salad with half of the dressing and serve the remaining on the side.
- If you need to prepare this ahead of time, combine everything except the apples and the dressing. Arrange on a serving platter and loosely cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Then, right before serving, arrange the apples on top and add the vinaigrette.
- Toast the nuts before assembling the salad. Toasting enhances their flavor and it only takes a few minutes. Place the nuts in a non-stick skillet set over medium-low heat. Warm until the nuts are fragrant. If you have a few extra minutes, this step is worthwhile.
Nutritional information is an estimate and will vary depending upon the exact amounts and specific ingredients used.
This post was originally published in November 2019 and has been updated.