gluten-free salads vegan vegetarian

Arugula Salad with Balsamic Pesto Dressing

May 27, 2014

Sometimes I have a clear vision for what I want to talk about during a post. Other times I have severe writer’s block and on occasion I have so much to say that I don’t even know where to begin. Today I am the latter.

I’m overwhelmed with how much I want to share about this arugula salad, what inspired it and what inspirations came from it that choosing what to talk about is almost impossible. Instead of picking one topic I’m instead going to deviate entirely and discuss how I structure my posts. My recipe posts that is.

Arugula Salad with Balsamic Pesto Dressing // thehealthymaven.comI wouldn’t say there is necessarily a science to blog writing, but with time I have figured out what works for me and what you guys seem to enjoy. My posts always include 4 pictures (sometimes more if I had luck on my side during a shoot) and are between 400-500 words. Rarely do I spend a post describing the recipe but instead talk about an experience that inspired the recipe or something the recipe made me think about. Sometimes what I talk about during a recipe post has nothing to do with the recipe at all aka today.

Another “rule” which I stick to (minus last week’s birthday post) is to limit myself to only one topic per post. I won’t do a survey and a recipe or a workout and a recap in the same post. If I’m being honest, it’s kind of a pet-peeve of mine when people do that. This likely is because I have the attention span of a two year old and trying to get me to focus on more than one topic is virtually impossible. This is especially true if I am reading your post first thing in the morning, pre-coffee…

Arugula Salad with Balsamic Pesto Dressing // thehealthymaven.comI find it somewhat laughable when people tell me they don’t want THM to exclusively become a recipe blog because they like reading my voice. First off, it still baffles me why anyone would EVER want to listen to me and secondly, if you just read between the pictures you would know that my voice is very present in my recipe posts. Even if it is slightly mean and outrageously sarcastic 90% of the time.

I understand why food bloggers spend a lot of time talking about their recipes, since filling your posts with keywords is one of the best things you can do for SEO, but that’s just not me. Alternatively I’m just incredibly narcissistic and prefer talking about myself rather than the recipe.

And now here I am 5 minutes later with a complete post. I’ll take the next two minutes to proof-read, miss at least 2 spelling mistakes and then schedule my post to publish at 5:00am tomorrow morning. This my friends is how the magic happens…


Arugula Salad with Balsamic Pesto Dressing

  • Total Time: 1 hour


For the Salad:

  • 6 cups baby arugula
  • 1 medium roasted beet (roasting instructions below)
  • 1/2 large avocado, cubed
  • 1/2 cup crispy roasted chickpeas (I used my Crispy Sriracha Lime Chickpeas OR 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 2 T shelled pistachios

For the Balsamic Pesto Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T chopped walnuts
  • 1 T nutritional yeast (or parmesan cheese if dairy is acceptable)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T water
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt


For the beet:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Wash a medium sized beet in cold water and dry thoroughly.
  3. Wrap in tin foil and bake in oven for 1 hour.
  4. Remove from oven and let cool before peeling skin with hands.
  5. Chop into bite-sized pieces.

For the Balsamic Pesto Dressing:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
  2. Set aside until ready to dress salads.

To Assemble Salad:

  1. Combine arugula, beet, avocado, chickpeas and pistachios in a large bowl.
  2. Top with balsamic pesto dressing.


  • Serving Size: 2

Arugula Salad with Balsamic Pesto Dressing // thehealthymaven.comBloggers, do you follow any kind of “rules” with post-writing? What kind of posts do you like reading?



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  • Reply
    Shashi @ RunninSrilankan(dot)com
    May 27, 2014 at 5:11 am

    I actually like reading all sorts of posts – those with recipe descriptions, those with a workout and a recipe, those with family stories and workouts – I like em all – even the “narcissistic self indulgent” ones 😉

    The pesto balsamic dressing sounds fantabulous – it’s been so long since I had a roasted beet – thanks for igniting a craving Davida!!!

  • Reply
    Arman @ thebigmansworld
    May 27, 2014 at 5:17 am

    I try to follow a similar approach to you behind blog posts, except recipe ones tend to have a reasoning behind them…usually.

    Now can we please talk about balsamic pesto? Only you could make such a…visually unaesthetic looking dressing look delicious.

  • Reply
    meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles
    May 27, 2014 at 6:21 am

    Totally hear you on the writer’s block where you have so much to say that you can’t figure out where to start. Happens to me all the time…I like reading blogs mainly for the voice of the blogger. I do follow a few food blogs strictly for the recipe and skip the words since they are all about the recipe but much prefer the people I enjoy for their personality. The food is a bonus.

  • Reply
    erin @ The Almond Eater
    May 27, 2014 at 6:53 am

    Your voice is totally present! People are cray. I think it totally depends on my state while writing the post… sometimes I’m in a silly mood and so my post will be weird and random and other times I’m kinda sleepy so I will talk about the recipe. Totallyyyyy just depends!

  • Reply
    May 27, 2014 at 7:12 am

    This looks like my kind of salad. That sauce looks the nuts – I really love basil!
    When it comes to writing blog posts – I literally just write what comes into my head. Sometimes I will whack in a few facts and other times I may get a bit el’ serious, it totally depends. For a recipe though I do like to talk a bit about how it came about and what it is like 🙂
    I love bloggers whose personality shines through the post, whether it is food, life or serious shizzle – makes you relate to them better!

  • Reply
    May 27, 2014 at 7:50 am

    I think you and I have a very similar writing process. Less recipe-focused, more life-focused! Love it.

    and I want to dive into this salad. We are salad twins today!

  • Reply
    Amanda @ .running with spoons.
    May 27, 2014 at 8:04 am

    What boggles my mind the most is that you apparently feel so passionate about a salad 😛 I’m still waiting for my veggie love to come back to me… I keep saying it’ll hit when the weather gets nicer, buuuuuut so far, no show. And really… I like to read any post that’s well written. If someone has a good voice then they can talk about the price of peas in Peru and I’d probably still be captivated.

  • Reply
    Kim @ Hungry Healthy Girl
    May 27, 2014 at 8:20 am

    Love reading your posts… You’re a great writer, but a really good cook too…win-win!! This salad definitely looks like something I would love!

  • Reply
    May 27, 2014 at 8:35 am

    Seriously could you have packed more of my favourite ingredients into a salad? Beets, aragula (well, ‘rocket’ to me) and pesto. And making pesto with walnuts? WAY more useful to me than pinenuts. I salute you and your salad creations!

    As for blogging rules: I have none – I’m not a legit enough blogger yet 😉 If I can get something posted that doesn’t make me cringe and question why I ever started blogging, then I’m happy with it.

  • Reply
    GiGi Eats Celebrities
    May 27, 2014 at 8:58 am

    AH HA! I see you took my advice and went with the SALAD RECIPE for today, how sweet of you! And me just tell you, this is ONE HUNKY SALAD! 😉

  • Reply
    Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves
    May 27, 2014 at 9:03 am

    First of all, this salad looks amazing and I’m gonna daydream about it for the rest of the school day.
    Secondly, I ♥ your posts because they’re short and sweet and to the point…unlike mine. heh. I’m working on it. Loved this mini behind the scenes look into your post-writing! 🙂

  • Reply
    Sam @ Better With Sprinkles
    May 27, 2014 at 9:04 am

    I think it’s so, so important that a blogger’s voice comes through in a post, no matter what the topic is – something that you seem to have down pat. I need to get better at making my posts shorter though, I have a habit of making mine 1000+ words.

  • Reply
    Kelly @ Kelly Runs For Food
    May 27, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Love the salad! Anything with avocado in it catches my attention. I don’t really follow rules for my posts, I just sort of see how things pan out once I start writing. I’m terrible at planning my posts, which I think has something to do with it!

  • Reply
    Alexis @ Hummusapien
    May 27, 2014 at 9:38 am

    This salad legit has like all my fave thing. Peppery arugula, crispy chickpeas, avo, roasted beets AND a basily balsamic? This is the shiz of mah dreams.

  • Reply
    kathy@vodka and soda
    May 27, 2014 at 9:49 am

    i htink you’ve found a good balance of injecting your own voice into your recipe posts. most food blogs i read are all “here’s the recipe/instructions”. that’s it.

    also – i need to bookmark this for the dressing because it sounds so yum!

  • Reply
    Jess @ What Jessica Baked Next
    May 27, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Love this recipe- the balsamic pesto dressing sounds absolutely divine! Definitely a salad recipe to give a try!

  • Reply
    Linda @ Fit Fed and Happy
    May 27, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Yum! I am always on teh lookout for new salad dressing recipes. I just have to find myself a food processor and some basil leaves now…

  • Reply
    May 27, 2014 at 10:13 am

    YUM I know what my salad for next week is going to be (I had my dad grill basically an entire garden of vegetables last night for my salads this week haha).

    I’ve been having the same trouble with recipe posts lately.. I just don’t know *what* to say. Nothing has necessarily been inspiring me food wise – I’ve been eating out of necessity. That’s what happens when I’m home too many weekends in a row (2 now, 2 more to go ugh). I’m sure I’ll have lots to chit chat about in 3 weeks and have to completely detox from drinking way too much wine and teq(killa).

  • Reply
    May 27, 2014 at 10:33 am

    That pesto looks amazing! I looooove pesto. I try to put it on almost everything haha. I don’t mind blog posts with more than one topic as long as it’s in the title or I know what I’m getting myself into!

  • Reply
    Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health
    May 27, 2014 at 10:57 am

    pesto dressing sounds delicious…even though i dont have a set style of writing, i prefer focusing on one topic at a time too..i do talk about the recipe though,

  • Reply
    Jen @ Chase the Red Grape
    May 27, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Love the pesto- and anything that combines the wonderful combo of beets and avocado!

    I try to stick to one topic within a post (unless I am doing a weekend recap etc)- helps me to focus my writing!

    I do prefer to read it this way too. Oh and you have a fab voice within your blog, keep doing it as you do – it’s working brilliantly! 🙂

  • Reply
    Megan @ The Skinny-Life
    May 27, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    I’m with you on the recipe posts! I try not to combine them with another topic. Sometimes I may throw in a sentence or two about me but somehow it’s relates back to the food I’m showing off. I really enjoy reading your blog because of your writing style. It sounds like you’re having a conversation with you.

  • Reply
    May 27, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Im in love with chickpeas in salad right now, I can imagine how good they would taste cooked, mmmm!

  • Reply
    Alex @ Kenzie Life
    May 27, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Mmm that dressing sounds heavenly! I’ve actually been on a salad kick lately, which is strange for me. I prefer to get my greens in other ways but something about impending summer has me craving salads! I want this ASAP!

  • Reply
    Em @ Love A Latte
    May 27, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Oh man I know I would loveeee that dressing! Homemade dressings are the best 🙂

  • Reply
    May 27, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Bahaaah, you crack me upppppppp. I tend to be a bit ADD with my posts at times and do sometimes jump all over the place, but I keep them short. I cannot stand really long blog posts. I’ve had a couple myself, but they are usually about a certain topic that only select people will enjoy anyway. SO…whatevvv. This salad looks legit. Too legit to quit.

  • Reply
    Heather @ Run Like a G!
    May 27, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    I love that you add in your stories between the beautiful food photos – it is what makes me coming back 🙂

  • Reply
    May 27, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    I think this salad is dreamy. The pictures really are incredible.

    I’m with you, I like to have a story of some sort accompany my recipes. It makes it more entertaining for me. I do also like to describe the food too. Not for SEO purposes, but because I want to know what that shiz tastes like. Is the bread light and fluffy or dense and moist? Are the chips crispy crunchy or more chewy in texture? These are things I need to know. Obviously. 🙂

    Love the idea about the balsamic pesto dressing.

  • Reply
    May 27, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    I like reading all different kinds of posts. One thing I love about your posts is that you have awesome questions at the end… even if the recipe isn’t something this picky bitch would try, I still love reading the post b/c you don’t constrain yourself too much!

  • Reply
    May 27, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    I like it when bloggers talk about the recipe because I want to get a feel of how it will taste or what it resembles before committing to making it

  • Reply
    May 27, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    I have zero plans and zero rules for my posts.
    I like to read a variety of types of blogs – some that have super recipes that are way beyond my level!!!

  • Reply
    Jennifer F
    May 27, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    Oh, looks so good . . . . need it NOW!

  • Reply
    Chelsea @ Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen
    May 28, 2014 at 7:23 am

    I adoooore pesto! And in dressing form? Genius!

    I have a similar style when it comes to recipe posts – I tend to talk about a topic related to the recipe, or try to (lamely) relate my current life happenings to the recipe.

    My other “rules” are to never post for the sake of posting and to always include a picture in my posts!

  • Reply
    Mary Frances
    May 28, 2014 at 9:05 am

    I notice I get in writing and posting ruts, too! Its hard to figure out how to mix it up without sounding like a completely different blogger … but at the same time, we all like variety. I’ve never been bored coming to your site, just saying! 🙂
    OHMYGOSH – balsamic pesto?!?! *swoon* *no words* *wherehasthisbeenmyENTIRELIFE*
    ^^I’m a tad bit excited because in my world, this is freaking genius.

  • Reply
    Tina @ Tina's Chic Corner
    May 28, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Hehe…if I write a post shortly after drinking coffee, my husband and editor can tell…multiple topics and rambling. This salad looks delicious and I’m loving that pesto dressing. 🙂

  • Reply
    Whitney @ To Live & Diet in L.A.
    May 28, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    I just made homemade pesto for the first time last week and I was shocked by how easy yet amazing it was. I would have never thought to try balsamic in it but this looks fantastic! Can’t wait to try it the next time I make 🙂

  • Reply
    May 29, 2014 at 6:48 am

    That salad looks amazing! Arugula is one of my favorite greens 😉

    I am having a great giveaway on my blog, please come by and check it out!

  • Reply
    Gabby @ the veggie nook
    May 29, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    I don’t really follow any rules but I definitely notice patterns with my writing and I tend to have around 3 pics per post. I vary between talking about thoughts vs. recipes, depending on my mood. I love how you structure your posts- never change! 🙂

  • Reply
    July 12, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    I am in love with this dressing! Thank you 🙂

  • Reply
    January 22, 2019 at 4:35 am

    Oh, this is really delicious ! You’re right – it tastes great on everything! Was so tired of pesto and we have sooooo much basil!Thank you

  • Reply
    Mateo Pedersen
    February 7, 2019 at 6:47 am

    What a beautiful salad, I’m drooling over this one. Figs are one of my favorite fruits and I really love the combination of avocados, figs, and pistachios here.

  • Reply
    Sharon Gore
    June 16, 2019 at 3:25 am

    That pesto looks amazing! I love pesto.

  • Reply
    Karen Cline
    October 7, 2019 at 1:58 am

    Thank you for doing this. Your work is so lovely and it’s really kind of you to share.

  • Reply
    Aarti sharma
    July 14, 2020 at 6:44 am

    Yummy and Healthy Recipe. thanks for sharing.

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