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Here’s the simplest salad you’ll ever make! This easy arugula salad is fool-proof: you don’t even need to make dressing. It comes together in minutes!

Arugula salad
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The more we cook, the more Alex and I find that the simplest recipes are the best. And that’s what we hear from you readers, too! There’s a place for the art of sourdough bread and margherita pizza with homemade dough. But when it comes to side dishes: we want easy! Introducing: the simplest arugula salad. It’s quite possibly the easiest salad you’ll make. You don’t even have to make a salad dressing! In 5 to 10 minutes, you’ve got an elegant salad that goes with literally everything.

What’s in this arugula salad?

The ingredients in this arugula salad are simple too (obviously!). But as with anything simple, you’ll need to make sure they’re high quality. Here’s what you need for this easy salad:

  • Baby arugula — do not use standard arugula! See the note below.
  • Shallot — thinly sliced
  • Olive oil — just enough to coat
  • Parmesan cheese shavings — for quick prep, buy Parmesan that’s cut into shavings
  • Lemon juice — you’ll need a real lemon (no fake juice!); add the zest if you have time
  • Kosher salt

Want to add another element? Peppery arugula pairs well with earthy beets. Try it with a citrus vinaigrette in our Arugula Beet Salad!

Easy salad

Baby arugula is a must! Don’t use standard arugula.

For this arugula salad to work, you % need to follow this important note! Use baby arugula. Yes, baby arugula, not standard arugula. Why? Here’s the difference:

  • Baby arugula is tender, with a mild flavor and a fluffy texture. You see the lovely feathery greens in the photo? That’s baby arugula.
  • Standard arugula is usually sold in bunches. It has a much stronger peppery flavor, and sometimes the stems are tougher. It’s not as good for a salad like this one.

You can find baby arugula in lots of mainstream groceries here in the US! It’s also available at farmers markets. As a rule of thumb: if it is sold as a bunch, stay away. Use the baby greens that are sold in packages or bags. Got leftovers? Try Arugula Pesto.

Arugula Salad

Use real lemon juice (and zest if time).

Growing up, real lemons weren’t ever in our house. But now that Alex and I run our own kitchen, they’re a mainstay on the counter! Real lemon juice can’t be replicated by lemon juice in a bottle: it just can’t! So make sure to use a real lemon for this and all recipes on our website!

If you have time, add zest of ½ lemon to the mix. The best way to zest? Alex and I use a microplane grater (here’s one we like), which makes quick work of it. (PS If you want to really dress up this salad, you could use our Citrus Salad Dressing: it uses lemon and orange and adds big flavor.)

Best way to shave Parmesan cheese: a vegetable peeler!

To shortcut the time to make this simplest arugula salad, buy Parmesan cheese that’s already cut into large shavings. Alex and I found it packaged this way at the store, and it makes it easy breezy to throw a bunch in a salad.

If you can’t find it packaged that way, just go at a big block of Parmesan cheese with a vegetable peeler! It’s the easiest way we’ve found to get those lovely shavings.

Arugula Salad

Can you omit the Parmesan for vegan?

You can! It wouldn’t be quite as good without the savoriness of the Parmesan, but we think you could get away with it. Try our Vegan Parmesan Cheese to bring in some more savory flavor. It has a texture more like grated Parmesan than shavings, but it would add good flavor.

Ways to serve this arugula salad!

This arugula salad is so classic and simple, it goes with almost every vibe of food. It’s especially perfect alongside Italian recipes, Mediterranean meals, or as a side for soup. Here are a few ways to serve it:

  1. Pizza party! This one’s literal perfection with pizza. Try it with Healthy Pizza or Mushroom Pizza or Homemade Cheese Pizza.
  2. Salmon. It would be great with Lemon Dill Salmon or Baked Salmon.
  3. Pasta. Try it with BEST Vegan Lasagna, Creamy Cavatappi or Mushroom Pasta.
  4. Shrimp. Arugula salad pair well with Shrimp Marinara or Easy Shrimp Paella.
  5. Soup. Pair with Best Wild Rice Soup or Best Damn Lentil Soup.
Best Healthy Pizza Recipe
Make it with our Healthy Pizza and save out some extra arugula for the pizza topping!

This arugula salad is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free. For vegan, plant-based and dairy-free, use Vegan Parmesan.

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Arugula salad

Easy Arugula Salad (Simplest Salad You’ll Make!)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 4 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8 1x
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Here’s the simplest salad you’ll ever make! This easy arugula salad is fool-proof: you don’t even need to make dressing. It comes together in minutes!


  • ¾ cup Parmesan cheese shavings (about 1.5 ounces)*
  • 1 small shallot
  • 8 cups (5 ounces) baby arugula (do not use standard arugula, usually sold in bunches)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice + zest of ½ lemon


  1. If necessary, shave the Parmesan cheese with a vegetable peeler. Thinly slice shallot.
  2. In large bowl, place the baby arugula, olive oil, lemon zest (optional), lemon juice, and kosher salt. Use your hands to toss everything so it’s evenly coated. Add the Parmesan shavings and shallot and toss for a few seconds until combined. Taste and add additional salt if desired.


*For quickest prep, buy a container of Parmesan shavings.

  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Raw
  • Cuisine: Italian

More with arugula

You a fan of this nutritious green? Here are a few more recipes that use it:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. David Evans says:

    Looking for a web site that has recipes for a couple (that is – 2 people). Would appreciate it if you could let me know if you have run across any. Thanks

  2. Estela Carr says:

    So delicious & easy!

  3. Cathy says:

    Wow, I’ve never had arugula before so I made lasagna for company and was looking around for a light salad and I found this one, beautiful, so refreshing, was great and different

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed!

  4. Mary says:

    Easy and delicious recipe! Thanks, once again – A Couple Cooks!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:


  5. Mary says:

    As usual, this recipe is delicious and so easy. I added some goat cheese.

  6. Eva Bauman says:

    For the easy arugula salad, I’m confused about measurements for the arugula. My bag shows 7 oz bag is 5 cups. Your recipe shows 5 oz equals 8 cups. Help.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Go for 5 ounces or about 2/3 of your bag. It doesn’t need to be perfect! (We measured cups loosely packed).

      1. Ayah ol says:

        Hi, so I tried this recipe it was good but can you give me the nutritional info I’m using this recipe for an assessment.

        1. Alex Overhiser says:

          It’s listed at the bottom of the recipe card.

  7. Savi says:

    Had this with pizza and it was so light and refreshing! Would definitely not omit the lemon zest. Also added a few broken walnut pieces for added crunch.

  8. John says:

    Love this salad; goes great with pasta dinners.