This easy arugula salad recipe gets extra flavor from shaved parmesan, toasted pine nuts and a simple lemony arugula salad dressing you won’t want to miss!
In the last year or so, one of my big focuses has been a veggie starter at dinner. It’s a great way to help balance your blood sugar, plus it’s always a great idea to fit in some extra veggies!
Other than fresh veggies + dip, or some roasted veggies, my favorite veggie starter is simple side salads. We rotate through all kinds of salads, depending on the meal, and this fresh arugula salad is a simple, elegant side salad recipe that pairs with all kinds of main dishes, from pizza and pasta to grilled chicken or salmon.
Even though the ingredients are simple, we’re able to pack in BIG flavor thanks to peppery arugula, punchy parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts, and a lemon arugula salad dressing that’s tough to beat.
It’s kind of hard to believe that much flavor comes from such simple ingredients, but here’s all you need to make this parmesan arugula salad recipe…
Simple Ingredients For Arugula Salad:
Part of this reason this delicious salad feels like the perfect side dish is that it uses such simple, basic ingredients. For this classic arugula salad, you’ll need:
- A Simple Arugula Dressing. This is what I call our house salad dressing! It an easy arugula salad dressing that only calls for lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and some dried oregano. It’s fresh, tangy & delicious!
- Baby Arugula (Rocket). You can use regular arugula or baby arugula, but I prefer fresh baby arugula for its tender texture. Arugula has a more peppery taste than traditional lettuce, but the lemon dressing & toppings balance this beautifully.
- Shaved Parmesan Cheese. You can absolutely used finely grated Parmesan if you prefer, but I love thick, shaved parmesan cheese for this salad. The larger pieces look beautiful, and the balance of flavors is more striking. (An Italian chese blend of shaved parmesan and asiago cheese also works!)
- Toasted Pine Nuts. So great in arugula salad. Can’t find them or prefer another option? Keep scrolling for more choices below!
Arugula vs Rocket
In the U.K., arugula is called rocket. Rocket and arugula are the same thing! It’s just two names for these peppery greens.
How To MAke This Arugula Side Salad, Step By Step:
First, Make The Arugula Salad Dressing:
- Juice The Lemons. If you haven’t already, squeeze the fresh lemon juice and remove any seeds.
- Combine. Add lemon juice, vinegar, Dijon mustard, oregano, salt, and pepper to a mason jar or small mixing bowl. Whisk to combine until well blended.
- Whisk In Olive Oil. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while you whisk. Adding the oil gradually helps you incorporate it better.
- Taste & Adjust. Then, taste the dressing. Add additional salt, pepper, herbs or lemon juice, if desired.
Then, Build The Arugula Salad:
- Dress The Greens. Add arugula to a large bowl. Drizzle with 2-3 Tablespoons of dressing. Gently toss with forks or tongs until the leaves are lightly coated, adding more dressing, if needed.
- Season the arugula with salt and pepper. (This might sound silly, but it makes such a big difference!)
- Finish The Salad. Transfer the dressed leaves to a serving bowl, if desired. Or, you can serve straight from the mixing bowl! Add shaved parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts. If needed, lightly toss the salad.
More Mix-Ins To Try:
I love the easy Parmesan Arugula Salad recipe I shared above, but it’s also easy to add more flavor by switching up the mix-ins! So what flavors go well with arugula? Try…
- Avocado. My favorite, always! Some diced or sliced avocado adds a creamy, rich note, that’s perfect with the fresh, light arugula salad.
- Pomegranate Arils. Or, add a pop of color with pomegranate seeds! Their sweet, juicy note is delicious with the other flavors going on.
- Citrus. For some brightness, add supremed citrus–slices of oranges or grapefruit. Blood orange is stunning!
- Pears. I love pears with arugula!
- Boiled Eggs. Soft-boiled eggs add some protein and heartiness.
- Grapes. Purple grapes add juicy sweetness!
- Dried Cranberries or Cherries. Subtle, sweet, and lovely.
- Pistachios. Swap out pine nuts for salty pistachios. (Or pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds!)
- Feta Cheese. Switch out the parmesan for crumbled feta cheese or your favorite goat cheese.
- Cooked, Crumbled Bacon or Prosciutto. Some smokiness is lovely with tangy dressing, toasted nuts, and peppery arugula!
- Roasted Squash. Sweet roasted butternut squash is fantastic in the fall and winter!
- Almonds. Swap out the pine nuts for toasted almonds!
- Onion. Some caramelized onion or sliced red onions can be a great complement to the peppery flavor of the arugula!
FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The Best Arugula Salad:
How To Toast Pine Nuts. If you’ve never toasted them before, don’t worry, it’s easy! We have a whole post all about how to toast pine nuts in the oven or on the stove. It only takes about 5 minutes!
Turn Up The Lemon! If you want even more lemon flavor, try adding some lemon zest. I love the bright tang of this, depending on what I’m serving the salad with. 1/2 teaspoon is plenty!
Turn It Into Dinner. To upgrade this parmesan arugula side salad to a meal, top with grilled chicken breast or serve alongside Glazed Salmon, a grilled steak, or roasted chicken! It’s also a great salad to go with pasta dishes like Cheesy Baked Ziti or classic gluten-free spaghetti! The light, peppery taste of the arugula & tang of the dressing is the perfect contrast.
Try It On Top Of Pizza! Have you ever had salad pizza? It’s amazing! Try topping a prosciutto pizza, white pizza, or pesto pizza with a little arugula salad. It looks gorgeous and tastes delicious.
⭐ Don’t forget to leave a star rating and comment below when you make our Parmesan Arugula Salad recipe. I can’t wait to hear how it goes!Print