Dressing Up: What To Put On Your Arugula Salad

Essentially the wild frontier for health-conscious chefs, salads are a dish that can be taken in any way imaginable. The journey is a group effort however, as all great chefs know that a salad is only as good as its ingredients. Meats, cheeses, fruits, and nuts are always great partners, but what specifically pairs well with the peppery green? Here are a few of our favorites.

Citrus

Lemon juice, lemon juice, lemon juice. Whether your topping your salad or dressing it with a nice vinaigrette, we highly recommend incorporating fresh citrus into your salad. The aforementioned yellow fruit is a bona-fide classic, but chefs looking to offer a variety of textures shouldn’t forgo oranges. Dropping a few fresh slices in with your arugula brings a nice color and vibrant flavor.

Meats

There are two schools of thought when it comes to using meat in salads; serving hot vs cold. While you may immediately gravitate towards chicken when thinking of the former, the slight savory flavor and crisp texture of arugula actually pairs better with steak! If you do go the cooked route, we recommend including some sautéed mushrooms. Chefs who want to keep their salad cool should reach for cured meats. Prosciutto is an especially good option and works wonders when combined with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Cheese

Vegans aside, who doesn’t love a good cheese? Arugula is a true Italian green (as it has been cultivated in Italy since the Roman empire), so it naturally pairs well with sharp Italian cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano. If you’re looking to step away from a traditional arugula salad, crumbly cheeses like goat cheese or gorgonzola are a great bet.

Fruits

While arugula reaches its peak in the early spring and fall, the cool weather green can be found throughout the year, making it a great vegetable to pair with seasonal fruits. To start, try including fresh strawberries in the summer and pears in the fall!

Nuts

Is it too corny to say we’re nuts about almonds? Slivered, diced, or whole, they bring a great crunch that serves as a healthy alternative to croutons. Though we’re partial to the protein-rich nut, walnuts and pine nuts are equally excellent in arugula salads, but each bringing slightly different flavors and textures to the plate.

Dressings

For the vast majority of your arugula salads, a house-made vinaigrette will be the way to go. Its light texture and sweet/tart balance won’t overshadow the inherent quality of your ingredients. Additionally, vinaigrettes are flexible enough to be altered to compliment more prominent flavors.