Arugula Salad with Grapes and Black Pepper Vinaigrette Recipe - Skillful Cook
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Arugula Salad with Grapes and Black Pepper Vinaigrette

12 reviews / 4.9 average
This Arugula Salad has grapes, cashews, pickled red onions, and a simple black pepper vinaigrette. Vegan, vegetarian, gluten free. |

This post is sponsored by juicy, crisp, beautiful California Grapes! Is that not the most fun thing ever?! 

Look look look look look. 👆🏽

I'm gonna just tell you: That Tastes Really Good. It's extra exciting to be sharing today's arugula salad with you because

  • You are down for the creative food combos that I dream up.
  • You're also lovers of whole, healthy food that TASTES SRSLY AWESOME (me too).
  • We all like things that are generally weeknight-easy to make.

And this salad is all of that.


We're starting with those bursty California grapes and tossing them with a big bowl of farro, cashews, arugula, pickled red onions (!), and basil FROM MY GARDEN THANK YOU VERY MUCH, but oh no - the fun won't stop there. We are capping off this epic combo by drizzling a black pepper vinaigrette over the whole thing and calling it a Very Delicious Day.

And the star of this lush arugula salad… it's obvi. The GRAPES! 🍇👈🏼

Like, hey/quick reminder/note to self - grapes really DO rock.

They are naturally sweet, deliciously healthy, and not only do they make the perfect What Do I Eat While Watching TV Snack — grapes are a must in all my salads from here on out.

This Arugula Salad has grapes, cashews, pickled red onions, and a simple black pepper vinaigrette. Vegan, vegetarian, gluten free. |

Let's talk about the origins of this party on a plate.

Once upon a time, I went to New Orleans.

I ate a lot of things, but one thing really latched onto my food brain: Black Pepper Vinaigrette. It doesn't even make sense. In the land of beignets and jambalaya and southern fried chicken, I find (and become addicted to) a dressing. On a salad. Just kick me off this blog already.

To my credit, the salad was not really a REAL salad - it had peaches and nuts and don't get weirded out but also really delicious pieces of raw fish called cobia 😬👌🏽 and then, as mentioned, a luscious black pepper vinaigrette. I came home to Minnesota, where I don't eat raw fish salads or other brave things, like, ever, and said to myself: you must must must find a way to get that very basic, very wonderful Black Pepper Vinaigrette into your life.

On an arugula salad with grapes and cashews and pickled red onions and basil.

I mean, look at us.

Gosh, we grow up so fast.

This Arugula Salad has grapes, cashews, pickled red onions, and a simple black pepper vinaigrette. Vegan, vegetarian, gluten free. |

As I sort of obsessively mentioned already, the grapes in this salad were ON POINT.

I have been on the hunt for California grapes ever since I learned that 99% of our grapes grown here in the US are grown in California - so when I found the ones that said “Grown in the USA” (they are now in season and get ready for 6 more months of this, baby) I knew they were the California gems I was looking for.

And those juicy little bursts of joy were more than delicious. I couldn't even stop myself. If half of them actually made it into this arugula salad before getting nabbed by my snacking mouth, I would be doing pretty well with life.


This Arugula Salad has grapes, cashews, pickled red onions, and a simple black pepper vinaigrette. Vegan, vegetarian, gluten free. |
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Arugula Salad with grapes, cashews, and pickled red onions in a bowl with a fork.

Arugula Salad with Grapes and Black Pepper Vinaigrette


This Arugula Salad has grapes, cashews, pickled red onions, and a simple black pepper vinaigrette. Vegan, vegetarian, gluten free.


Units Scale

For the Pickled Red Onions

  • 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 red onions, very thinly sliced

For the Black Pepper Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove garlic

For the Salad

  • 2 1/2 cups red California grapes, halved
  • 2 cups cooked farro or a gluten free alternative like quinoa
  • 3 cups arugula
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons
  • 1/2 cup chopped cashews


  1. Pickled Red Onions: Place the vinegars, water, sugar, and salt in a jar with a tight fitting - shake lid until well combined. Add the sliced red onions. Refrigerate at least 24 hours or longer for best flavor.
  2. Dressing: Place the vinegar, olive oil, sugar, pepper, and salt in a jar. Crush the garlic clove and just drop it in the jar in one or two pieces - the idea is that you'll still get some fresh garlic flavor infused into the dressing without the little pieces of raw garlic in the dressing when you serve it. 🙂 Shake to combine. You can make this ahead.
  3. Assembly: Toss the grapes and farro with about half of the dressing. Add the arugula, basil, cashews, and a handful (however much you want) of the pickled red onions. Toss to combine. Add additional dressing if it needs any more - for me, the original amount of dressing was just about right. Let the salad sit for just a few minutes to really get it nice and yummy, soaking in that dressing.


The amount of dressing is more than what you'll need for 6 servings, but I always like to have extra homemade dressing on hand so I'm leaving these amounts as-is. Just keep the dressing for a few days and make the salad one more time! 🙂

For the nutrition I only counted half the dressing amount for 6 servings.

If making ahead, toss everything except the dressing, arugula, and basil. Those should be added right before serving.

  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 5 mins
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: arugula salad, vegan salad, black pepper vinaigrette

Thank you to California Grapes for sponsoring this delicious arugula salad which I will now go devour for the 800th time mmmk bye.

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’ve never tried grapes in salad (except chicken salad, does that count?) but I really want to try it out now, along with that black pepper vinaigrette that you have TOTALLY sold me on!

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    This looks beautiful! I could probably eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I love cashews on salad. They don’t get enough love. 🙂

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love a nice big bright salad. It’s a proven fact that we eat with our eyes as well as our mouths! I love arugula – I put it on everything. : )

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Yay! Favorite salad topping frieeeeends! Grapes on ALL.THE.THINGS folks. Totally trying this Black Pepper Vinaigrette as I always lean towards sweet and need more black pepper in my life. Good call 😉

    Also, I think the fact that you came away from NOLA loving something HEALTHY means you are right on track 😀 #score

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    This salad makes me so happy! It looks positively scrumptious. I’m so glad you included pickled onions, it’s such a creative way to kick up the acidity. You’ve got me all excited to drop Cali grapes in salads now! Can’t wait to try this!
    xx Sydney

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wait a hot second, is that salad floating in milk like cereal? This recipe sounds so good but the bowl in two of the photos make it look like the salad is sitting in a pool of milk!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    PLEASE edit the Pinterest blurb for this recipe. It looks amazing and I pinned it to my board without reading the ingredients because it looks so delicious. However, it is NOT gluten free. Farro is a kind of wheat. For someone who needs to follow a gluten free diet, perhaps buckwheat (which, despite its name, is not a form of wheat!) could be substituted for the farro. Anyway, it looks amazing and I love your recipes even though I have to change them up sometimes to fit my families dietary needs.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thank you Sarah!! I was coming here to say the same thing. Farro is straight up gluten/wheat! lol

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thank you! My major bad – I think in my mind it was quinoa because I made it that way a few times as well! Appreciate the catch!