This Grape Salad with Candied Walnuts is my copycat version of Pizzeria Bianco’s grape salad. Lemony with great crunch, sweetness and creaminess. This is an excellent side dish to pair with a hearty meal.
It’s the holiday season, which also means grape season. The grapes are all very sweet and juicy right now. I don’t usually think of grapes when it comes to salad, but we recently tried this salad from Pizzeria Bianco (of course, we had pizza too). It’s was really good, especially to serve with hearty food.
I’m doing a copycat version. And it all starts with candied walnuts. Candied walnuts sound intimidating to make, but they really aren’t. First, lightly toss the walnuts in a nonstick skillet for a few minutes to boost the nutty flavor. Then wipe the skillet and melt butter. Add sugar and salt. Next, add the walnuts. Stir and toss. Cover the walnuts with that melted sugar. Pour onto a baking sheet and spread out. Let the nuts cool and sugar hardened. Chop them up into little pieces. That’s it. Not complicated at all! One thing to remind you to be extra careful when working with hot melted sugar because the burn can be very painful.
For the dressing, it’s a lemon vinaigrette. It’s tart and sour that is so strong that punches you in the face. But it’s perfect in this salad. After combining with all other ingredients, everything comes together and the flavors work. The vinaigrette is just garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, dijon mustard, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk together and chill in the fridge.
Then, get the grapes ready. I used red seedless grapes. Mine were smallish, but juicy and with a crunchy skin. I cut them in half. If your grapes are bigger, cut into quarters or slices.
When ready to serve, toss the baby arugula with 3 tablespoons of vinaigrette. Taste and add more if needed. The vinaigrette is strong in flavors, so you don’t need much. Place half of the arugula on a serving plate, then top with grapes, crumbled goat cheese and candied walnuts. Repeat with another layer of arugula and toppings. So you get even amount of toppings throughout the salad. Feel free to add extra toppings to your liking.
If you’re serving a heavy main course and thinking about a vegetable side, this salad is for you. The lemony coated arugula is balanced with juicy grape, sweet candied walnut and creamy goat cheese. It refreshes your palate. I don’t usually like salad, but I love this and always finish my portion. Hope you guys will give this a try!
Grape Salad with Candied Walnuts
- 5 ounces baby arugula
- ¼ cup lemon vinaigrette (recipe followed)
- ½ cup red seedless grapes (rinsed and pat dried, then cut into halves or quarters depends on size)
- 0.25 ounce goat cheese (crumbled)
- ⅓ cup candied walnuts (recipe followed)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ¼ cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup walnuts (halves & pieces)
- 1 garlic clove (minced)
- Zest from ½ lemon
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about 1½ lemons)
- ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon honey
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Ground black pepper
- For the candied walnuts, prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- In a small nonstick pan over medium heat, without adding any oil, add walnuts. Stir and toast for about 4 minutes, until fragrant. Transfer to a small bowl. Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel.
- In the same pan over medium heat, add butter. Once melted, add sugar and salt. Mix, then leave alone until most of the sugar has melted. Once it starts to bubble, add nuts. Stir and mix for 2 minutes. Carefully pour onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread out the nuts and set aside to cool completely. Chop into small pieces. Set aside.
- For the lemon vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, dijon mustard and honey. While whisking, slowly drizzle olive oil until well blended. Season with salt and pepper and give a quick whisk. Set aside in the fridge.
- For the salad, in a large mixing bowl, toss the arugula with 3 tablespoons of vinaigrette. Taste and add more if needed. Place half of the arugula on serving plate, scatter grapes and goat cheese all over. Sprinkle walnuts over. Then do another layer of arugula, grapes, goat cheese and walnuts. Serve immediately.
- When making the melted sugar for the walnuts, be extra careful. Melted sugar is very hot and should be handled with care.
- Leftover candied walnuts can be kept in an airtight container and keep at room temperature for up to one week.
- This lemon vinaigrette makes about ⅔ cup of dressing. For any leftover, store in an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- I used only about 0.25 ounce of goat cheese. If you love goat cheese, feel free to add more. It’s the same for grapes and candied walnuts. Add as much as you like.
- This salad can serve up to 3 people. It looks like a lot of green at first, but arugula will wilt a bit after coated with dressing.
- This salad can be prepared ahead. Get all the components ready a few hours early and keep everything in the fridge separately (candied walnuts can stay at room temperature). Toss the salad right before serving.