Arugula green apple salad with goat cheese

Arugula green apple salad with goat cheese

Fresh greens taste so good during the summer, and I’m always trying to eat as many salads as possible during the warmer months. I especially love summer salads that incorporate fresh fruit because I am believer in the philosophy of incorporating salt, fat, acid, and heat with a little bit of sweetness to create a satisfying flavor experience. 

For this summer salad recipe, we're using spicy arugula leaves, also known as rocket, for the base. That gives us our heat. Acid comes from the lemony salad dressing we coat the salad with. The salt comes from the dressing as well as the dry roasted nuts that I sprinkle over the salad when I’m plating it up, and the fat comes from the goat cheese balls coated with herbs and spices to give the dish some added complexity and umami. The green apples pull everything together with their sweet and sour bite.

This is one of those salads that you can throw together during the weekday, or for a dinner party, and it will impress people. I've even had some friends over the goat cheese balls, they're that good.

Arugula, green apples, and goat cheese salad plated up

What is arugula and how do I use it?

Arugula originates from the Mediterranean region and is a popular green that’s consumed throughout many parts of the world like Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. It has a spicy, nutty flavor and is typically featured in salads, sandwiches, or piled high on pizzas and flatbreads. Arugula belongs to the same family as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage, so it’s a hearty green that holds up well to dressings and toppings. 

What are the benefits of arugula?

It’s always good to eat fiber for your health and digestion, which arugula contains. It also is a good source of vitamins A and C, which can help your eye health and your immune system. Additionally, arugula has antioxidants and phytonutrients that can help you stay healthy.

Recipe: Arugula green apple salad with herby goat cheese balls

Yield: Serves 2 to 4 people 

Active cook time: 30 minutes 

Ingredients for the salad 

  • 3 cups of arugula
  • 1 cup of mixed greens  
  • 1 large green apple 
  • ½ small red onion or shallot (¼ cup)
  • 4 to 6 ounces of goat cheese (plain) 
  • ¼ cup of toasted walnuts or almonds 
  • ¼ cup of dried cranberries or cherries (optional) 
  • 2 tablespoons of herbs de Provence or parsley 
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds 
  • 2 tablespoons of za'atar or sumac 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Ingredients for the salad dressing 

  • ¾ cup of olive oil (extra virgin)
  • ½ cup of lemon juice (1 whole lemon and a teaspoon of lemon zest)
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon or whole-grain mustard 
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste 


1. Wash and roughly chop up greens, make sure to thoroughly let the greens dry before assembling salad. 

2. Thinly slice green apples and add to your salad mixing bowl. Drizzle a little lemon juice onto the apples to prevent browning.

3. Thinly dice red onion or shallot. If you don’t want a sharp onion bite, you can run the chopped onions under cold water to reduce that spicy flavor. Make sure to drain your onions really well before adding to the salad.

4. Zest a teaspoon of lemon to the salad mixture and set everything aside. You’ll start making the dressing now. 

5. Add extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, honey, mustard, salt, and pepper to a mason jar or bowl and stir well until everything is emulsified. Set aside. Make sure to give this a quick mix before adding to the salad later. 

Salad dressing with olive oil, mustard, lemon juice, and honey

6. To make the goat cheese balls, ensure your goat cheese is very cold so it is easy to work with before you start cutting and molding. Cut the goat cheese into small portions, about ½ tablespoon for each goat cheese ball. Once you have everything portioned out, roll each portion with the palm of your hands until you form a ball. 

Goat cheese ball being held in palm of hand

 It doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth, you’ll cover with spices later. 

Rolled goat cheese balls on the cutting board

 7. Once the goat cheese balls are shaped, roll each ball into the various spice mixtures. 

Goat cheese ball covered in sumac

Add back to the refrigerator to make sure the goat cheese balls firm up before serving. 

Goat cheese balls covered in spices


8. To serve up the salad, coat the salad mixture with dressing. I like to lightly coat the salad so it’s not dripping wet with dressing. 

Mixed up salad with dressing

9. Plate up the salad mixture and top it off with the goat cheese balls and sprinkle on some nuts for texture. 

Hand holding goat cheese ball covered in sesame seeds

10. Once you assemble the salad, serve right away. If you are making this ahead of time, make sure to keep the salad mixture undressed, and keep the goat cheese balls and nuts separate so nothing gets soggy. The salad mixture will keep in the refrigerator for up to a day, just make sure to drizzle a little lemon juice onto the apples so they don't brown. 

11. The salad dressing is good to store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. And the goat cheese balls should be consumed within a day. 

I hope you enjoy this summer salad recipe and make sure to leave your comments below to let me know what you think about this recipe. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

If you have ideas for other summer salad recipes, let me know below. Happy eating. 

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