California Central Coast Recipes

Arugula Salad with walnut-olive dressing

On the California Central Coast, areas which have a strong marine influence from the Pacific Ocean do not freeze and continue to grow produce throughout the Winter. It is during this time of year that we get some of the best leafy green vegetables and makings for winter salads.

This is one of our favorite winter salads made up of arugula, walnuts, and an unusual chunky walnut-olive dressing. The dressing itself is delicious and it also lends itself as an appetizer-dip with crackers or potato dip chips.

The dressing is very opinionated, so the the secret is to use really good peppery arugula - nothing really substitutes. The bitter-peppery sharpness of the arugula contrasts very nicely with the acidity of the walnut-olive dressing. 2018, Arugula Salad with walnut-olive dressing
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time:
re-calculate ingredients for:


2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
16 Fresh Walnut Halves
16 Medium Whole Cloves of garlic

The Dressing
1/4 cup Fresh Walnut pieces
1/4 cup Kalamata Olives , coarsely chopped
2 cloves Fresh Garlic , coarsely chopped
1/3 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh Black Pepper , several grinds to taste

6 ounces Fresh Arugula (Rocket)
Parmesan Reggiano , for shaving

Preparation Directions.

1 To make the garnish, add the extra-virgin olive oil to small saute pan over low heat. Add the walnut halves and the garlic cloves.

2 Saute over low heat until the garlic becomes slightly golden and translucent. Be careful no to over heat the pan! The Olive oil will burn and the garlic will turn bitter.

3 Remove the contents from the pan and place aside on a paper towel for later.

4 For the dressing, place the walnut pieces, the olives, chopped garlic, vinegar and olive oil in a food processor.

5 Run the the food processor for a minute or so few seconds to chop up the contents, but do not completely puree the contents, it should be slightly chunky.

6 Add a few grinds of Black Pepper to taste.

7 To assemble the salad, place a portion of the arugula on individual plates. Place the whole garlic cloves and walnut halves attractively throughout the arugula.

8 Drip a spoonful or two of the dressing over the salad, then places several shavings of Parmesan Reggiano on top of the salad.

9 Serve with a crusty bread.

Wine and Food Pairing and Serving Suggestions.

You have two choices for wine. If you like the spicy bitterness of the arugula, serve the salad with a dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc.

On the other hand, if you want to tone the bitterness down a bit, serve the salad with a red wine like a Petite Sirah. The tannins in the red wine will temper the bitterness of the arugula

A tip from Sue!

No cheese on seafood please!

When serving an Italian seafood dish, unless the recipe specifically calls for cheese, grated Parmesan cheese on top is not a good idea!

The pungent taste of Parmesan is usually too strong for the delicate fish flavors.