I’ve been toying with the idea of an arugula salad with cherries for a long time now. I love the combination of the two together-- they’re the ultimate taste of summer in my mind. I couldn’t put my finger on how I wanted it to go, though, until I made these pickled cherries a few weeks back. Everything fell into place when I tasted the tart, sweet little gems and I immediately knew burrata, fennel and slivered almonds were the missing pieces for this elegant summer salad.
I love the contrast of cool, creamy burrata with the peppery bite of arugula, toasty almonds and the tart, juicy punch of pickled cherries. The sliced fennel adds a wonderful crunch and a delicate anise note to this fresh summer salad.
Don’t fret if you don’t have pickled cherries-- this summer salad is delicious with fresh cherries too. But the extra touch of vinegar is an especially nice balance to the rich burrata and bitter arugula, and you won’t regret making a big batch of them.
what goes best with arugula?
Arugula is a strongly flavored green, especially if you get older leaves (which is why I’m a huge fan of baby arugula!), and it isn’t for everyone. But there are a few tricks to making balanced, delicious salads with arugula that aren’t completely overwhelmed by its flavor. Here are a few ingredients that I feel go best with arugula:
Use creamy, fresh cheeses like burrata, ricotta, mozzarella, and goat cheese to help balance the bite of arugula and tame its peppery flavors. They don’t mask or compete with the flavor of the green, they just mellow it out.
The same can be said with acidic items, like vinaigrettes, citrus wedges, or in this case, pickled cherries. They cut the herbaceous notes and add a palate cleansing freshness to the salad.
In addition to including acidic items in the salad, I love to serve a bright and refreshing white wine for the same effect. Sauvignon blanc, Gruner Veltliner, cool climate unoaked Chardonnay, Albariño and Chenin blanc can all bring high acid and fresh flavors to the table.
Avoid bitter drinks like IPAs, amaro cocktails (I’m looking at you, Campari and soda!) and some Pinot Noirs, which can amplify the bitterness of arugula and make it overwhelming.
what can you use instead of burrata?
Fresh burrata can sometimes be hard to come by. If you can’t find it at your local grocery stores, you can definitely substitute fresh mozzarella instead. Burrata is simply fresh mozzarella stuffed with cream and small strands of mozzarella, which is responsible for the oozing, incredibly creamy consistency in the center. But the flavor is basically the same as fresh mozzarella, so you’ll only miss out on that dreamy texture.
If substituting fresh mozzarella, dice it into cubes rather than tearing it into large pieces for this salad. It’ll be easier to eat!
I would adore this salad with a French triple creme cheese as well. They’re incredibly rich and decadent and would be a fantastic foil to the bite of arugula.
arugula summer salad with pickled cherries, burrata and fennel
serves 4- 6
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
freshly ground black pepper
5 oz baby arugula (about 5 cups)
1 fennel bulb, quartered, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup pickled cherries, drained (can substitute pitted fresh cherries in a pinch)
1/3 cup slivered almonds
2 balls of burrata
flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
In a small bowl, whisk to combine vinegar, honey, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper to make the dressing.
In a large bowl, add arugula, fennel, pickled cherries and almonds. Drizzle with enough dressing to lightly cover greens and toss to coat. Taste, adjust seasoning if needed, then transfer to a large platter.
Gently break burrata into quarters and scatter across surface of salad. Drizzle burrata with olive oil and sprinkle with flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with additional dressing on the side and enjoy immediately.
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