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.
The side salad that goes with everything
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
- 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.
Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl (olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, and lemon juice). Add the arugula to a salad bowl.
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
- I love especially like pairing it with pasta like this Easy Pasta Puttanesca!
- But it goes with practically anything from Creamy Garlic Pork Chops to Honey Mustard Salmon. The possibilities are endless, honestly.
- I have been known to eat it all by itself in a massive bowl as a light lunch with a slice of crusty bread. Why not?
Questions about this easy arugula salad recipe? Let me know in the comments below! How do you typically make yours?
Parmesan Arugula Salad
- 1 (5 ounce) package arugula
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese or more, to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or more, to taste
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice or more, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 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.
- 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.