Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
on Mar 31, 2022, Updated May 31, 2023
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Served with the perfect lemon vinaigrette, this simple arugula salad with shaved Parmesan is a side dish that’s incredibly versatile. The best part is that it’s just a starting point. You are more than welcome to add other things to enhance it and transform it into something else. And it goes with countless main dishes.
Table of Contents
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Everyone should have a go-to, go-with-everything kind of salad in their repertoire. I never feel like a meal is complete without greens, but that doesn’t mean it has to be elaborate. This recipe is just arugula, Parmesan and vinaigrette.
You can make the dressing in advance and keep it in a jar in the fridge. It is light and citrusy with a touch of sweetness to balance it out the peppery taste of the arugula leaves. Make it a few times and commit it to memory. This is one reason why I buy a couple lemons every single time I go shopping.
This salad can be customized. You can toss other things into the bowl like fresh or roasted vegetables, nuts or herbs. Try adding a protein. These additions can be seasonal or a way to turn a salad into a meal on its own.
What Is Arugula?
Also known as rocket, arugula comes from the same family as cabbage and mustard greens. It’s often described as peppery and spicy. What I love about it is that it packs so much personality and flavor in those lovely leaves.
Yes, arugula is great in salads, but I also like it mixed into grains and even turned into arugula pesto. You can pair it with fruits and vegetables that are raw, sautéed or roasted. I finish my Sun-Dried Tomato Pizza with a couple handfuls of arugula on top for something fresh.
Salad Ingredients & Substitutions
This is what you need:
- Arugula is not the only type of lettuce for this vinaigrette. You can also toss it with baby spinach, baby kale, a spring mix or pretty much any greens.
- Parmesan is a classic cheese for this salad, but Pecorino is another hard cheese that will shave nicely into it. The best way to slice Parmesan into those thin shavings is to use a vegetable peeler.
- Lemon: There is no substitute for this citrus. Bright and zippy lemon is what you want.
- Garlic: The dressing calls for one minced garlic clove.
- Honey takes a little bit of the sharpness off the vinaigrette and adds a hint of something sweet, which goes well with everything savory.
- Mustard, specifically whole grain Dijon mustard, is in the dressing for two reasons: 1) to add flavor, of course, and 2) to emulsify the ingredients, keeping them together.
- Olive oil: With any salad dressing, I always use a good extra virgin olive oil.
- Salt & pepper are musts to season the vinaigrette.
Seasonal Salad Additions
As mentioned, this arugula salad recipe is really just the beginning. Depending on the season, you can add other ingredients to it to make it more filling and more specific. Here are a few ideas:
- Spring: Embrace the start of berry season with strawberries and blackberries plus fresh herbs and pine nuts. If you want, you can even swap out Parmesan and use crumbled goat cheese or feta instead.
- Summer: Hello, stone fruit! I love peaches, cherries and nectarines with peppery arugula and chopped walnuts or almonds. Pit them and slice them very thinly. You can also keep it simple and only add ripe cherry tomatoes.
- Fall: Crisp apples and pears are my choice for fruit. Or you can use roasted vegetables like sweet potatoes or butternut squash along with chopped pecans and sliced red onion.
- Winter: Both roasted cauliflower and roasted broccoli are great in this salad. Also look to jarred ingredients like pitted Kalamata olives. I love diced ripe avocado too.
How To Make This Arugula Salad and Lemon Vinaigrette
- Make the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk together the arugula salad dressing ingredients including fresh lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, mustard, honey, salt and pepper. You want to make sure they are fully mixed.
- Assemble the salad. Put the arugula and the shaved Parmesan cheese in a large salad bowl.
- Drizzle in the vinaigrette, tossing to combine.
Toss the salad in the dressing right before you are planning to serve it. You can make it in advance, so then all you have to do is toss the salad together. Consider it a bonus to whip up a batch of homemade croutons.
You can add a protein like chicken or salmon to this classic arugula salad to turn it into a main dish and include other extras.
Storage & Leftovers
This recipe makes about 3 ounces of vinaigrette, which is more than what you need for 5 ounces of arugula. A delicate lettuce like arugula does better when you start with it lightly dressed and add more as needed to satisfy everyone’s tastes.
The extra dressing can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge up to 4 days. It will probably become solid in the chill of the refrigerator. Let it sit out at room temperature to liquefy again or run the container under warm water over the sink and shake it around to do this faster.
Again, only toss the amount of arugula you are planning to eat at that specific meal in the dressing. You don’t want to end up with soggy salad leaves.
If you buy it at the grocery and the package says it is pre-washed, you don’t need to rinse it. When you get greens at the farmers market, they usually have some dirt or grit on them. So in that case you should rinse them off with cold water. A salad spinner is helpful to dry off the leaves or gently pat them with a towel. Wait to wash if off until you are ready to eat it.
It is best to keep it in the fridge. Put a paper towel in the bag or container with the leaves to absorb any condensation or moisture that may develop.
Arugula grows in cooler temperatures, so peak seasons are spring and fall. It is harvested when it is young when the leaves are still delicate.
More Easy Salad Recipes
Did you make this salad recipe? Please leave a rating and comment below. Thanks!
Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
- For dressing
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 teaspoon whole grain Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- For salad
- 5 ounces baby arugula
- 1/3 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
- For the vinaigrette, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, mustard, honey, salt and pepper until fully combined in a small bowl.
- Combine the arugula and Parmesan in a large bowl. Drizzle in the desired amount of dressing, tossing to combine. (The recipe makes about 3 ounces of vinaigrette. You will not need all of it for the salad).
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe originally published March 31, 2022. Updated: April 20, 2023.