A classic all-year-round salad, that’s popular in Italy. This delicious Pear and Rocket Salad with Parmesan and Walnuts is simple to make, bursting with a combination of fresh flavours, topped with a simple balsamic honey dressing and ready to eat in less than 10 minutes. For a salad recipe that has just a handful of ingredients, it’s surprisingly filling too!
If you’re looking for a side dish, quick lunch recipe or even a main course, this Pear and rocket salad with Toasted Walnuts and Parmesan shavings is the salad for you.
With the peppery rocket leaves and the richness of parmesan cheese, this is a surprisingly comforting and filling salad. Top this off with the sweet pears and crunchy toasted walnuts, this easy salad is guaranteed to be enjoyed by everyone.
Finished with a generous drizzling of our balsamic honey salad dressing to flatter the fresh Italian flavours in this salad. The result is a comforting and filling salad dish that can be served on it’s own or as a side dish to a main meal.
Why You’ll Love This Pear and Rocket Salad Recipe
- Quick and Easy – With only 4 ingredients (plus the simple salad dressing) it’s easy to make and ready in under 10 minutes.
- Good For You – This pear and rocket salad is packed with goodness and very filling.
- Great for Quick Meals or a Dinner Party – This elegant salad makes a main dish salad for two, a delicious side salad for 4, or you can scale it up and serve it as a dish for parties or a side for a BBQ.
- A Sharp Knife – To slice up the pears.
- Cheese Grater with a Shaver Side or a Vegetable Peeler – To shave the Parmesan cheese.
- Frying Pan – To toast the Walnuts.
- Pestle and Mortar or Rolling Pin – To crush the walnuts. You can also use a knife to chop them up if you’d prefer.
- Salad Bowl – To Serve up the salad.
What is Rocket?
Also known as Arugula, Rucola, Roquette or Eruca, Rocket leaves are a type of herb with a peppery flavour that is slightly bitter. It is grown in many parts of the world as an annual plant in the summer months.
A popular salad leaf in Italy, where it has been used since Roman times. You will often find it served raw on top of cooked pizza, paired with tomatoes and burrata and in many sauces and pasta dishes. It can be served and eaten both raw; like we have in this pear rocket walnut salad, or cooked into a dish or fried with garlic and olive oil.
- Fresh Rocket Salad Leaves – Also known as Rucola, Arugula or Eruca, this somewhat bitter, peppery leaf is the most traditional leaf used in this salad. However, you can substitute it for baby spinach leaves or lambs lettuce if you’re looking for a milder flavour.
- Parmesan – When using parmesan in recipes, we always recommend using Parmigiano Reggiano. This type of parmesan cheese has a set of regulations and specific ingredients to abide by, as well as a minimum aging time of one year. This ensures the best and most authentic taste for your Italian Salad. You can still, however, use a regular unspecified parmesan if you cannot obtain a specific type.
- Walnuts – You can use shelled or unshelled walnuts but make sure they are fresh. Opened packets of shelled walnuts, unless refrigerated, should be used in 2-4 weeks.
- Pears – Use ripe pears that are in season for this recipe for the best taste. You can use many different types of pear here. However, we recommend a Conference pear, it is a good choice which pairs well with the parmesan cheese.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Use a good quality extra-virgin olive oil for the dressing. Regular olive oil cannot be used a substitute as it denotes a different flavour and is used as a cooking oil.
- Balsamic Vinegar – A good quality balsamic vinegar cannot be substituted for other varieties of vinegar in this recipe. However, you can use a balsamic glaze instead.
- Honey – A runny honey is a good choice when making a pourable dressing as it mixes better with the other dressing ingredients. The sweetness of the honey brings out the flavours in the cheese and walnuts and counters what can be a bitter taste from the rocket leaves.
- Dijon Mustard – This mild in flavour mustard should be used sparingly to avoid it overpowering the other flavours present here.
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper – You can season your homemade salad with these to suit your tastes.
Being quite a versatile salad recipe, you can defer from the more traditional and classic ingredients of pear rocket walnuts and parmesan if you wish.
You can choose to create your own version of this delicious salad, swap out some ingredients or add something extra.
Here we have listed some ideas for additions and substitutions to our salad recipe:
- Different Salad Leaves – You can use baby spinach leaves as an addition or substitution for the rocket leaves. For a milder flavour you can try lambs lettuce leaves instead of the Rocket (Arugula) too.
- Cherry Tomatoes – Slice them up and remove the seeds for a sweeter taste.
- Avocado – Rich and ripe avocados make a filling addition to this salad.
- Pine Nuts – You can add them in as an extra or replace the walnuts with them. Just be sure to toast them first for the best flavour.
- Pumpkin Seeds – Lightly toast the seeds before adding to this pear salad recipe for extra crunch and texture.
- Cashew Nuts – These sweet nuts can offer a slightly different flavour to this salad if you replace the walnuts with them. Again, toast them first before adding to your Classic Italian salad. You can also leave the nuts out completely if you’re looking for a nut-free version of this pear salad.
- Blue Cheese – Replacing the parmesan for blue cheese works well as it pairs well with the sweetness of the pear. You can also try goat cheese too.
- Apple – You can substitute pears for sweet apples if you’d prefer.
How To Make Pear and Rocket Salad With Walnuts and Parmesan – Step By Step
One of the best things about this salad is how simple it is to make. With just a few fresh ingredients, you can whip up a delicious salad in no time.
To make this pear, rocket, walnut and parmesan salad, all you need to do is slice the pear and toss it together with the rocket (arugula) greens, sprinkle with some chopped toasted walnuts and shaved parmesan cheese. Finish off with a generous drizzling of our quick-to-make balsamic honey salad dressing and you’re good to go.
You can follow our detailed step-by-step instructions below.
Step 1: Prepare the rocket leaves
- Begin by washing the rocket leaves if necessary. Check the packet, as many bagged salads are prewashed, so this step might not be needed. If you do wash the leaves, be sure to drain and dry them well before adding other ingredients. Place the leaves into a large bowl and set aside.
Step 2: Prepare the pears
- Remove the cores from the pears and slice them thinly or cut into small chunks, whatever your preference. You can leave the skin on the pear or remove it if you wish. If you’re making it in advance, soak the pear slices in cold water with a little salt or lemon to prevent them from turning brown.
Step 3: Shave the parmesan cheese
- Using a vegetable peeler or cheese shaver, shave the parmesan cheese into thin slices. You can also buy pre-shaved parmesan if you want to save time.
Step 4: Toast and chop the walnuts
- Heat a pan or skillet over a low/medium heat and gently toast the walnuts for a couple of minutes to bring out the flavor. Be careful not to burn them. Remove from the heat and chop or crush them into smaller chunks.
Step 5: Prepare the dressing
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, and mustard to create the dressing.
Step 6: Arrange the salad
- Place the rocket (arugula) leaves in a large bowl or shallow dish.
- Top the rocket leaves with the thin slices of pear.
- Add the shaved parmesan cheese.
- Sprinkle over the crushed, lightly toasted walnuts.
Step 7: Add the dressing
- Pour over the dressing when you’re ready to serve or leave it in a little jug and serve it on the side.
Why We Recommend Toasting Walnuts
In general, toasting any type of nuts will bring out and enhance the flavour as well as improving the texture by making them more crunchy.
Walnuts are a type of nut that benefits greatly from toasting. You will find that the flavour differs slightly once toasted. It makes them less bitter and more sweet and aromatic.
You need only a pan without oil over heat to toast the walnuts for this recipe. It’s quick and they’ll be ready in around 2 minutes.
We recommend toasting the walnuts in a pan for this recipe to save switching the oven on, but nuts can also be toasted laid out on a sheet pan and toasted in the oven for several minutes.
The one problem to watch out for when toasting nuts is to prevent them from burning. Be sure to agitate them and turn them over regularly to prevent this from happening.
Rocket is the most common name used in the UK for this type of spicy salad leaf. However in the USA the name more commonly used is Arugula. In Italy, you will find this salad leaf called Rucola.
Place the sliced fruit into a bowl of cold water with a pinch of salt or a squeeze of lemon juice. Drain well when you’re ready to serve. There is no need to rinse the fruit.
No, parmesan that is labelled as Parmigiano Reggiano has to adhere to strict guidelines for aging times as well as ingredients. Other cheeses labelled Parmesan may differ greatly in both taste and quality.
Pro Tips and Guidance
- Leave the dressing off until you’re ready to serve – Pouring over the dressing too soon will make the rocket pear and walnut salad limp and soggy. You can serve the balsamic honey dressing on the side.
- Feel free to add extras or make substitutions – This is a versatile salad that can be added to or changed slightly for different flavour combinations. See our recommendations for recipe variations.
- Soak the pear slices to prevent browning –If you’re making this salad ahead of time, soaking the sliced pear in cold water with a pinch of salt or a squeeze of lemon juice will prevent them from turning brown. Drain well before using, no need to rinse.
Storing Rocket, Pear, Walnut and Parmesan Salad
This pear rocket walnut salad is best eaten on the day it has been prepared and since it’s so quick to make, it doesn’t need to take much time or preparation. However, you can also make it ahead if you wish.
- Storage: If you leave the dressing off, you can store this rocket pear salad in an airtight container for up to 24 hours in the fridge. The dressing can also be stored in the fridge in a separate airtight container.
- Freezing: Salads do not freeze well so this isn’t recommended.
Recipes to Serve With this Salad
Serve this delicious salad alongside these Mozzarella Fritta With A Creamy Tomato Sauce for an impressive antipasto or part of a main dish.
For another bread option, try this simple Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Focaccia Bread.
These Italian Parmesan Oregano Bread Rolls are great served with this salad.
Pear and Rocket Salad With Parmesan and Walnuts
- 60 g Rocket Salad
- 50 g Parmesan
- 50 g Walnuts
- 1 Ripe Pear
- 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 tbsp Honey
- 1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
- Wash and Drain the rocket leaves if required (some pre-packaged bags of rocket will be pre-washed so check the label).
- Place the rocket into a large bowl and set aside.
- Wash and finely slice the pears. You can leave the skin on or remove it if you prefer.
- Using a peeler or a cheese shaver, shave the parmesan into thin slices.
- Take a frying pan or skillet and heat. Place the walnuts into the pan and toast for a couple of minutes. You can chop them or leave them whole.
- Whisk together the olive oil, honey, mustard and balsamic vinegar to make the dressing.
- Add the pear, parmesan and walnuts to the rocket leaves and toss together to mix.
- Pour over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Alternatively, you can season the salad with salt and pepper and serve the dressing on the side.
- Don’t add the dressing until you’re ready to serve – The salad may become limp and soggy if you add it too early.
- You can store the salad without the dressing in an airtight container, in the fridge, for 24 hours.
- This is a versatile dish that can be added to or made with substitutions, see the recipe post for our recommendations.
- If you make this ahead, soak the pear slices in cold water with a little salt or lemon juice to prevent them from browning, No need to rinse before using but be sure to drain them well.