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Caramelized Onion Apple Pecan Salad

dairy freedinnerhealthylunchmeal preprefined sugar freevegetarian

Savory & sweet caramelized onion apple pecan salad with a light, healthy dijon mustard dressing. This delicious apple pecan salad has amazing flavors and textures from umami parmesan, toasted garlic, tart apple, and crunchy pecans. Enjoy this salad as the perfect healthy lunch for meal prep or easy side dish for dinner parties!

apple pecan salad

Zack and I have been back in full swing of nomad life in Bend, Oregon. There’s so much to do (and eat) at all of the amazing places here, so when we’re at home, I love to make us healthy meals for two that are nutrient-dense, filling, and packed with flavor. Call it a salad, call it a grain bowl. This delicious recipe checks all of those boxes, and is the perfect addition to my salads that don’t suck series.

I can only describe this arugula salad as an amalgamation of textures and flavors that I love, with a punch of toasted garlic that keeps everything together. The caramelized onions. The crisp greens and herbs. The sweet and tart granny smith apples. The perfectly fluffed farro. Take all of that, toss it in our homemade dijon dressing and you’ve got yourself your new favorite salad for parties, for dinner, and every occasion in-between.

What makes this salad healthy?

This recipe uses powerful ingredients that make this the perfect salad for weight loss, reducing stress, and improving digestion.

  • Weight loss: arugula is a nutrient-dense, low calorie leafy green vegetable that’s shown to promote detoxification in the body.
  • Reduce stress: we swap half the greens for basil in this recipe, which is shown in studies to act as an adaptogen and counters metabolic stress.
  • Digestion: farro is an ancient grain that’s high in fiber and proven to boost digestion and prevent constipation.

Podcast pairings

While you cook this delicious salad, listen to these Healthier Together Podcast episodes for a deeper dive into this recipe’s amazing health benefits (and a good time).

Ask the Doctor: Diet and Weight Loss Myths

Exactly How to Identify and Eliminate Stress in Your Life

The Future of Gut Health with Dr. Will Bulsiewicz

Ingredients in apple pecan salad

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this delicious, healthy salad.

  • For the dressing: we’re making a honey dijon dressing with extra virgin olive oil, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, honey, fine grain sea salt, and ground black pepper.
  • For the mix-ins: you’ll need farro, pecans, yellow onion, garlic, granny smith apple, and parmgiano reggiano.
  • For the salad base: assemble this salad with a combination of arugula and fresh-torn basil.
apple pecan salad

The best salad hack

Swap about half the lettuce or greens for fresh herbs, like mint, cilantro, basil, whatever you think compliments the flavor of the salad you’re working with. It makes every salad feel SO elevated, brings in a TON of health benefits, and tastes way better than bland, leafy greens.

Also, one of the most game-changing tricks I’ve learned from chefs is to salt your greens before adding the rest of the mix-ins and dressing! This’ll help make all of the flavors pop.

Easy ways to customize this salad

Whether you’re gluten free, dairy free, or vegan, you can totally make this caramelized onion apple salad fit your dietary needs with some simple ingredients swaps. Here’s what I’d recommend:

  • Choose plant-based cheese. If you’re dairy free or vegan, feel free to use a cheese alternative. It’ll still be delicious.
  • Swap the farro. If you’re gluten free, brown rice would also be perfect in this salad!
  • Switch the sweetener. You can also use real maple syrup instead of honey in the dressing if you’re vegan. Easy!

More vegetarian salads to try

Hot Girl Summer Salad

The Best Vegan Taco Salad (with plant-based meat!)

The Easiest Meal Prep Sheet Pan Salad

Detoxifying Basil and Roasted Beet Salad

Strawberry Pistachio Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Vinaigrette

I hope you love this Caramelized Onion Apple Pecan Salad! Enjoy, and tag me if you make it on Instagram (@lizmoody)— I can’t wait to see!

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Caramelized Onion Apple Pecan Salad

  • Author: Liz Moody
  • Yield: 2 large salads or 4 small salads 1x



For the salad

  • 1/2 cup rinsed farro
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped or sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 gently packed cup roughly torn basil leaves
  • 3 gently packed cups arugula
  • 1 granny smith apple, thinly sliced or chopped
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmigiano reggiano
  • olive oil and fine grain salt, to cook

For the dijon dressing

  • 1.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1.5 teaspoon honey
  • sprinkle of salt
  • generous pinch fresh ground black pepper


  1. Boil a large pot of water with add a generous amount of salt, then cook the farro like pasta until al dente according to package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, add pecans to a skillet. Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes, until fragrant and golden. Pour them onto a plate and set aside.
  3. To the skillet, add a drizzle of olive oil, onion, and a little salt. Cook over medium heat for about 45 minutes until jammy and caramelized, adding a splash of water whenever the onions stick to pan. Then, add garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until garlic is fragrant.
  4. Make the dressing by whisking together all dressing ingredients in a jar or bowl until smooth.
  5. Divide the arugula and basil between two plates and add the farro, caramelized onions, apple, and dressing. Add salt to taste. Top with parmesan cheese and chopped pecans. Enjoy! 

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