Let’s take it easy with a quick, healthy side like this Arugula Salad with lemon balsamic dressing. This flexible recipe goes with just about anything (chicken, seafood, pizza, and even brunch recipes like quiche all taste fab with arugula). It’s simple, endlessly customizable, and the bright dressing makes it the best arugula salad you’ll ever make.
Why You’ll Love this Simple Salad
- Timeless. This tasty blend of peppery arugula (plus giant shavings of Parmesan because YUM) is simple but pretty enough to be worthy of the weekend.
- Easy. I never feel too tired to throw it together, even at the end of a long weekday when my brain is saying hi, I’m done.
- Fast and Flexible. It takes minutes to pull together and will make you feel both wholesome and creative at the same time.
- Dream Salad. It’s the sort of salad I wish I could order at every restaurant: lots of green, with a vibrant lemon balsamic dressing that enhances the other ingredients without making the salad wet or soggy.
I’ve made assorted versions of this arugula salad dozens of times over the years.
It’s a back-pocket kind of recipe that gives me a zippy, tasty way to add some green to our plates. I enjoy it every time I make it.
Why Use Arugula Greens
Arugula is one of my favorite greens to use in a salad because of its signature flavor.
It can stand up to fully flavored dressings, but it’s not *so* strong that it overpowers the plate, hence its ability to pair with so many dishes.
- Arugula recipes like this one are excellent for easy lunches and healthy sides.
- Depending upon what other ingredients you have on hand, you can make one to suit any mood. (For the holidays, nothing beats this Apple Walnut Salad with arugula.)
- When I’m craving a more filling, main dish-style arugula salad with goat cheese, I make this Creamy Arugula Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese and Tomato.
- When I need a main that will impress everyone I serve it to, I go for this Roasted Eggplant with Crispy Chickpea Arugula Salad.
When I need a slam-dunk side dish that can pair with anything, however, today’s balsamic arugula salad never fails.
Tips to Make a Healthy Arugula Salad
Because of its nutritious ingredients and light dressing, this arugula salad is very good for you.
Arugula is packed with vital nutrients, and it’s low in calories, carbs, fat, and sugar.
You also can add just about anything you like to it.
- To make the salad even better for you, add extra servings of healthy ingredients, like fresh vegetables or fruit (arugula salad with pears or strawberries would be wonderful). An arugula avocado salad is next on my list.
- Use more indulgent ingredients, like nuts and cheese, in moderation. These are important to add to make the salad satisfying; just don’t go overboard.
- Arugula salad recipes with chicken are also a great way to add lean, filling protein. You can easily toss chicken or your cooked protein of choice on just about any arugula salad.
How to Make Arugula Salad
Arugula is a flexible green and the dressing can handle additions.
Have carrots and tomatoes your fridge? Toss ’em in!
I also like to add nuts or sunflower seeds for texture, and any chopped fresh herbs in the fridge that are threatening extinction.
Honestly though, you can serve this salad with only the arugula, lemon balsamic dressing (which tastes completely dynamite with arugula), and Parmesan and call it a day.
Any other ingredients are yummy, but it’s the simple trio of arugula, homemade dressing, and Parm that does the heavy lifting.
- Arugula. Despite its appearance, arugula is not a lettuce. It’s actually part of the mustard greens family. You can do so much with arugula besides make a salad, but that’s my favorite way to serve it. It’s tender, fresh, and peppery. Additionally, arugula is rich in calcium and potassium (read more about arugula here).
While I adore the black pepper flavor of arugula, if you want to make the salad more mild, you can replace up to 50% of it with baby spinach.
- Fresh Veggies or Fruit (Optional!). Pick one or two simple additions if you like, or keep this salad simple and skip them. Grated carrots and/or cherry tomatoes add a delicious burst of sweet, juicy flavor and color; or go the fruit route with peaches or pears.
- Shaved Parmesan Cheese. A critical component of this easy salad. Skip the pre-shredded stuff, and buy a high-quality Parmesan you can shave yourself.
- Toppings. Sunflower seeds or toasted sliced almonds, pecans, or pine nuts, plus herbs are the perfect final flourish for this salad.
- Dressing. The arugula salad dressing is a simple combination of fresh lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and salt. It’s light, bright, and so tasty.
- Make the Dressing. Feel free to double the recipe so you have extra.
- Grab a Big Bowl. Add the arugula greens.
- Toss with a Little Bit of the Dressing. You want the salad moist, but not soggy.
- Top It Off. Parmesan and sunflower seeds are my favorites. Add a little extra dressing if you like. ENJOY!
Dishes That Go Well with Arugula Salad
- Pasta. Serve this salad alongside a heaping plate of pasta: pesto-based pastas like Chicken Pesto Pasta, creamy pasta like Penne Alla Vodka, and red-sauces like Baked Turkey Meatballs all pair well with arugula.
- Pizza. Try serving this salad with Burrata Pizza or Broccoli Pizza Crust for a well-rounded meal. AMAZE.
- Quiche. One of the best combos with arugula salad! Try Easy Quiche or Crustless Quiche for something effortless, or Broccoli Quiche or Goat Cheese Quiche for something extra special.
- Salmon. Pair it with Baked Salmon for a light, healthy meal or a Salmon Burger for a fun twist.
- Sandwiches. Indulge in an Air Fryer Grilled Cheese or BLT with an arugula salad alongside.
- Soups. Do your own soup and salad combo! With its peppery bite, arugula salads pair well with creamy soups like Potato Leek Soup and cheesy soups like French Onion Soup.
- Grilled Entrees. Arugula salad go well at cookouts alongside grilled meat or seafood, like Grilled Chicken Thighs and Grilled Swordfish.
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
- To Make Ahead. Prepare the dressing, and store it in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Combine the arugula and any vegetables you’d like to add in a large mixing bowl up to 1 day in advance, storing it in the refrigerator. Toss the salad ingredients with the dressing, toppings, and freshly shaved Parmesan just before serving.
- To Store. Leftover, dressed salad can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 additional day. The arugula will wilt, but the salad will still taste delicious. I like to toss in some fresh arugula with the leftovers to crisp things back up, as well as drizzle on some additional dressing.
Recommended Tools to Make Arugula Salad Recipes
- Citrus Juicer. With this tool, you’ll never dread juicing a lemon or lime again. It gets EVERY DROP.
- Liquid Ingredient Measuring Cups. Mix and measure your salad ingredients in the same cup.
- Vegetable Peeler. My favorite way to shave cheese right from the block.
This fresh arugula salad is poised and ready to be your weeknight warrior or elegant dinner party contribution.
It’s a salad everyone will enjoy!
FOR THE ARUGULA SALAD:
- 5 ounces arugula about 5 cups
- 1/3 cup large Parmesan cheese shavings see pictures—don’t skip this, and the better the quality of the cheese, the better the salad! I like to shave mine right off of the block with a vegetable peeler
- 3 tablespoons chopped sunflower seeds or chopped nuts of choice—toasted and chopped walnuts pecans, and pistachios are all delicious (optional)
- 1 tablespoon chopped mild fresh herbs of choice such as chives, parsley, or tarragon (optional)
FOR MORE VEGGIES (optional):
- 4 medium carrots shaved into ribbons (about 8 to 10 ounces) or 1 cup grated carrots (if you’re in a hurry, you can use the pre-bagged grated carrots)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
- Place the arugula and any optional veggies in a large bowl.
- In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the dressing ingredients: lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and salt. (Alternatively, you can shake them all together in a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid).
- Drizzle enough over the arugula to moisten it, then toss to combine.
- Sprinkle Parmesan and any desired nuts or herbs over the top. Serve immediately with a drizzle of extra dressing as desired.
- Dressing can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for 3 days, or up to 1 week if you freshen it up with a bit of extra lemon juice.
- TO MAKE AHEAD: Prepare the dressing, and store it in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Combine the arugula and any vegetables you’d like to add in a large mixing bowl up to 1 day in advance, storing it in the refrigerator. Toss the salad ingredients with the dressing, toppings, and freshly shaved Parmesan just before serving.
- TO STORE: Leftover, dressed salad can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 additional day. The arugula will wilt, but the salad will still taste delicious. I like to toss in some fresh arugula with the leftovers to crisp things back up, as well as drizzle on some additional dressing.
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