When it comes to Arugula Salad, this is the simplest, most balanced and satisfying version I know. With just 6 simple ingredients, plus salt and pepper, it’s the kind of salad that’s likely to become a house recipe that you’ll know by heart.
A dab of honey softens the sharp acidity of the lemon juice based dressing while enhancing the peppery arugula. And a shower of nutty, shaved parmesan cheese and buttery pine nuts rounds everything out.
Ingredients you need to make Arugula Salad
- Baby Arugula: Ideally washed and dried, for convenience.
- Pine Nuts: You can use raw pine nuts or toast them in a dry skillet.
- Parmesan Cheese: Ideally Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano.
- Lemon: Look for a bright yellow lemon that’s heavy for its size (extra juicy!).
- Honey: Just a teaspoon, but it makes the dressing.
- Olive Oil: A flavorful, extra virgin olive oil is best for this dressing.
Baby arugula is ideal here. The small, tender leaves are easy to eat and have a milder flavor than mature arugula leaves. They’re also convenient, typically pre-washed and dried, so you can assemble this salad in just 10 minutes. The ideal side salad for weeknight dinners because it goes with just about any main dish you can think of. It also happens to be gluten free and with just 4 grams of carbohydrates per serving is great for those following low carb or keto diets.
How to Toast Pine Nuts
Toasting pine nuts for this recipe is optional, but easy. The simplest and most reliable way to toast pine nuts is in a dry skillet on the stove top. Place the dry skillet over medium-low heat until hot. Add pine nuts; cook and stir for 2-3 minutes until golden and fragrant. Immediately transfer to a bowl to cool. (They burn easily, so don’t leave them to cool in the hot skillet.)
Though I love this simple salad recipe as is, it takes well to alternatives and embellishment. No pine nuts? Pecans make a great substitution. Want to add heft? Avocado slices, crumbled goat cheese (or rounds of crispy Baked Goat Cheese) or feta are excellent additions (You might also enjoy my Watermelon and Arugula Salad).
What to Serve with Arugula Salad
- Pan-Fried Lamb Chops (Serve alongside these lamb chops and you’ll have a gorgeous dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes.)
- Grilled Chicken Thighs (Crispy skin, tender, juicy chicken with just 3 ingredients and 5 minutes of prep!)
- Bucatini all’Amatriciana (Deeply savory pastas like this pair perfectly with the brightness of this salad!)
- Lemon Garlic Pasta (Double down on simplicity and freshness with this pairing – makes me think of spring!)
- Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta (Like the recipe above, but embellished with succulent shrimp!)
How to Make Arugula Salad
Step 1: Combine dressing ingredients (olive oil, lemon juice, honey) in a small bowl; whisk until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Step 2: Place arugula in a salad bowl and pour dressing over; gently toss to coat. Transfer to platter; sprinkle with parmesan shavings and pine nuts. Serve.
- 5 ounces baby arugula
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice about 1/2 lemon
- 1 teaspoon honey
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 ounce parmesan cheese thinly shaved with a vegetable peeler
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts toasted if desired, see recipe note
- Place arugula in a large bowl.
- Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, and honey in a small bowl until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle dressing over arugula and gently toss to coat.
- Transfer salad to serving platter if desired and top with parmesan shavings and pine nuts. Serve.
- If you prefer toasted pine nuts: Place a small dry skillet over medium-low heat until hot. Add pine nuts; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes until nuts are fragrant and lightly golden. Transfer to a small bowl to cool. (Don’t leave the nuts in the hot skillet to cool as they burn easily.)