Arugula Salad with Lemon Zest, Parmesan, and Balsamic Dressing

Simple and basic arugula salad is a perfect addition to any dinner!  Garnished with lemon zest and Parmesan cheese, this fresh salad requires only 5 ingredients and takes just 15 minutes to make!

Arugula Salad

Fresh arugula salad is an excellent side dish to many types of main courses.  When you spend an hour or so on making dinner for your family, it’s likely you don’t want to invest much more time on a dinner salad.  Featuring only 5 ingredients, this simple arugula salad takes only 15 minutes to make!

If you like the idea of a basic salad with just a few ingredients but want to use a different green than arugula, then you might also like this simple spinach salad.

Arugula Salad

What is arugula?

Arugula is a delicious green leafy vegetable that works great in salads!  Mature arugula leaves have a spicy, peppery flavor with a light mustard-like taste.

Arugula is also called rocket salad, rucola, rugula, or roquette (among other names).


Because this arugula salad is so simple and features just a few ingredients, the quality of each ingredient makes a huge difference.  Using high-quality ingredients will take this basic salad to a whole new level!

  • High-quality Balsamic Vinegar. I used a high quality Italian balsamic vinegar that I purchased when visiting Modena during my recent trip to Italy.  This balsamic vinegar has a thick consistency, and it pours more like a syrup.  The flavor is rich and sweet.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I recommend that you splurge on a high-quality extra virgin olive oil.  I purchase cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, which means that no heat was used to extract oil out of the olives.  When purchasing olive oil, I always check that it says “cold-pressed” on the bottle.  With extra virgin olive oil, it’s important that you buy/use the bottle before its expiration date, for best quality. Store olive oil in a cool dark place (away from the light and heat, such as heat from the stove or the oven). Many high-quality olive oils have a strong spicy flavor.   A good quality olive oil tastes fresh and never rancid.
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. For best results, purchase a wedge of a good Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and grate it yourself right before serving with the salad.

Arugula Salad


While this arugula salad is all about simplicity, you can easily dress it up by adding one or more of the following ingredients:

  • Tomatoes. Chop up the regular tomatoes into smaller bites and add to the salad. Grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes will work great, too.  You can also use sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Mushrooms. Add sliced mushrooms on top of the salad.
  • Avocado. Adding freshly sliced avocado will add richness to the arugula salad.
  • Nuts. Lightly toast pecans or slivered almonds.  You can also add walnuts and cashews.
  • Seeds. Pine nuts are a great addition to an arugula salad.  You can also lightly toast some sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds and sprinkle them over the salad.
  • Fruit. Add sliced apple, pear, or mango.
  • Cooked Bacon Bits. Sprinkle bacon bits to add more salty and savory notes to this salad.


  • Don’t have arugula? Use baby kale or baby spinach.
  • What other cheese can you use besides Parmesan? Use Asiago cheese or Romano cheese.
  • Don’t have lemon zest? Sprinkle the salad with a small amount of freshly squeezed lemon juice or lime juice instead.
  • Don’t like balsamic vinegar? Skip it altogether and just use extra virgin olive oil.

Arugula Salad

Perfect dinner salad

This simple arugula salad takes only 15 minutes to make. It’s one of the best dinner salads to prepare on a busy weeknight!  The salad has only 5 ingredients, including the ingredients for the homemade salad dressing, made with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.    You can also use your favorite salad dressing or a store-bought dressing.

If you enjoy pasta dinner, the arugula salad will go great with chicken and bacon pasta or tomato spinach shrimp pasta.  If you like chicken bakes, make this salad along with bacon cream cheese chicken or basil pesto tomato mozzarella chicken. If you prefer seafood, try Tuscan salmon or trout with garlic lemon butter herb sauce.

Arugula Salad

Arugula Salad with Lemon Zest, Parmesan, and Balsamic Dressing

This simple arugula salad requires only 5 ingredients and takes just 15 minutes to make.   Garnished with lemon zest and grated Parmesan cheese, the arugula salad is a perfect addition to any dinner!

Course: Salad

Cuisine: American

Servings: 4 people

Calories: 118 kcal

Author: Julia


  • 5 ounces arugula
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese grated


  1. Add arugula to a large bowl.

  2. In a small bowl, mix Balsamic vinegar with olive oil, until emulsified.

  3. Drizzle the Balsamic vinegar and olive oil mixture over the salad.

    Note: you don’t have to use the whole amount of salad dressing.  Use just enough to drizzle.

  4. Top with lemon zest and grated parmesan cheese.

Nutrition Facts

Arugula Salad with Lemon Zest, Parmesan, and Balsamic Dressing

Amount Per Serving

Calories 118 Calories from Fat 81

% Daily Value*

Fat 9g14%

Saturated Fat 2g13%

Cholesterol 5mg2%

Sodium 147mg6%

Potassium 148mg4%

Carbohydrates 4g1%

Sugar 3g3%

Protein 4g8%

Vitamin A 905IU18%

Vitamin C 9.2mg11%

Calcium 164mg16%

Iron 0.7mg4%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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