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This easy arugula salad is light, tasty, and comes together in about 10 minutes. It’s the perfect side salad for virtually any main course and a fantastic last-minute option!

Love arugula? Try this Arugula, Fennel, and Manchego Cheese Salad.

classic parmesan arugula salad being lifted out of a serving bowl with tongs

Why you’ll love it

Arugula salad is one of those ubiquitous salads that you’ve probably had before at a restaurant, or maybe someone served it at a dinner party. It’s pretty popular, and for good reason! It’s crazy simple to throw together and has a 4-ingredient dressing, and that’s why we can’t get enough of it.

Another bonus? It’s one of those salads that’s a wonderful base to throw in your favorite ingredients. Putting your own signature twist on it is easy, and soon everyone will be begging you for the recipe.

What you’ll need

  • Baby arugula – it’s a peppery green that has a TON of flavor and lots of nutrients! It’s so good that it doesn’t need much to complement its taste. For my U.K. and overseas readers, this is a rocket salad.
  • Parmesan cheese – the nuttiness of parm plays well with the other flavors here
  • Olive oil, lemon juice, honey, Dijon mustard – that’s all you need for the simple yet addictive homemade vinaigrette!
  • Salt & pepper – as with any salad, be generous

Pro tip

  • Since this has so few ingredients, each one shines. That’s why it’s really important to grate your own parmesan cheese. The pre-grated stuff or the kind in a can just don’t compare in taste or texture. We’re looking for the real deal, aka a block of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  • I used my Microplane to grate the parmesan cheese. It’s a really handy tool to have.

How to make arugula salad

This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.

whisking vinaigrette dressing for arugula salad in a bowl

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl (olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, and lemon juice). Add the arugula to a salad bowl.

freshly grated parmesan in a small bowl next to arugula salad

Grate the parmesan cheese. Just before serving, add the parmesan to the salad and pour the dressing over the arugula and toss. Season with salt and pepper, and enjoy immediately!

Can I make it ahead of time?

  • You can, but only if you add the dressing and parmesan to the salad just before serving. But go ahead and make the dressing ahead of time and store in a covered jar in the fridge for a few days. Just don’t assemble all of the individual elements into a salad until you’re ready since it wilts fairly quickly!

Tips for success

  • Our kitchen feels you should try it the first time as written, but it’s easy to add more olive oil or lemon juice to suit your personal preferences. It’s a flexible recipe, and pretty soon you’ll be making it like I do without measuring at all!
  • I don’t recommend leaving out the Dijon mustard. It brings a great savory dimension to the dressing and doesn’t make it taste mustard-y.
  • The honey helps balance the acidity of the lemon juice and peppery arugula. If you can’t have honey, use another sweeter like a pinch of sugar or agave. It’s an integral element for balance!

Substitutions and variations

  • Pine nuts would go really well, especially if they’re toasted. Really, any nuts or seeds are probably going to be tasty here.
  • If you want more color and/or veggies, cherry tomatoes or avocado are a solid choice.
  • Even though a classic arugula salad can usually be found with parmesan, go ahead and sub the parm for goat cheese, feta, or any cheese you normally enjoy in salads! There are no rules here.

What to serve with it

the best arugula salad in a shallow serving bowl

Questions about this easy arugula salad recipe? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love it if you left a star rating and review as well.

classic parmesan arugula salad being lifted out of a serving bowl with tongs
5 from 9 votes

Parmesan Arugula Salad

This easy arugula salad is light, tasty, and comes together in about 10 minutes. It's the perfect side salad for virtually any main course and a fantastic last-minute option!
Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese + more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 (5 ounce) package arugula
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • I strongly recommend buying a wedge of parmesan cheese for the best flavor vs. buying the pre-grated kind. Either grate it (I use my Microplane to make it light and fluffy) or use a potato/vegetable peeler to shave it.
  • Add the dressing ingredients (oil, lemon juice, honey, Dijon mustard) to a small bowl and whisk together.
  • Add the arugula to a salad bowl and toss with the dressing and parmesan cheese. Taste and adjust if needed (e.g. add a splash more oil or lemon juice) and season with salt & pepper. This salad wilts quickly, so enjoy it right away. Grate/shave more parmesan on top if you wish.

Notes

  • Double all ingredients if you need a larger salad. This one serves up to 4 as a side (it’s quite light).
  • Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.
     

Nutrition

Calories: 92kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 9mg, Sodium: 217mg, Potassium: 146mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 939IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 205mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Hi! I’m Natasha.

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16 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is a family favorite and I also take it along for holidays. This Christmas, I’m going to add some pomegranate seeds to make it festive. Should be delicious! πŸ˜‹

  2. 5 stars
    This salad is delicious. Even my husband who does not like arugula loved it. 😍 It’s a keeper for sure!

  3. Read your note about trying recipe as listed. I was thinking you were referring to the ratio as in more lemon versus oil, etc. I get it now! Will definitely try again with less dressing. – makes sense!

    1. I was referring to that for sure, but I suppose in my brain, doubling the dressing kinda falls under that too haha. I just don’t want people to ever feel constrained by one of my salad recipes as tastes vary and it’s easy to double/triple/omit ingredients to one’s liking. πŸ™‚

  4. 5 stars
    Made it and loved it!
    Maybe I’m missing something or we just like a little more dressing on our salad.I doubled the recipe because I couldn’t see how a dressing with only about two tablespoons total would be enough for four servings/five ounces of arugula.

    1. Hi! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!! Yup, that’s why I have the note in there that you can adjust quantities to your liking. When testing it, I found that adding much more dressing than suggested totally saturated the arugula and it got limp very quickly. I typically am a drown-it-in-dressing kinda person (especially with Caesar salad haha), but I preferred the lighter touch with this one. Definitely depends on the person, though. πŸ˜€

  5. 5 stars
    I love this simple dressing. It’s easy and delicious, and perfect for arugula. I’ve made it several times. Highly recommend!

    1. I’m thrilled to hear that, Yvonne!! Thanks so much for your review – it’s very much appreciated. πŸ˜€

  6. 5 stars
    I feel obligated to leave a comment since I’ve been making this all summer. My husband loves it. I love it. I’ve made it various summer get togethers where it’s a total hit. It’s so simple yet such a delicious side.