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Arugula Salad with Parmesan, Lemon and Olive Oil

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5-Ingredient Arugula Salad with Parmesan, Lemon and Olive Oil -- super easy, and always so fresh and tasty! |

Have you read the book, Essentialism, yet?

After hearing literally dozens of friends, colleagues, and even neighbors talk about this book over the past few years, I finally bought a copy to bring on my trip to New Zealand this past February with Barclay. I was looking forward to curling up with it on the couches of our various AirBnBs. But after dozens of hours of podcasts, playlists, and conversations during our long drives all across the country, I randomly asked B one day if he’d like me to read the first chapter aloud for something different. He did. And so I did. And after just a few pages, we were completely hooked. And then proceeded to be those nerdy American tourists who read the book aloud to one another during the rest of the trip.

Yet one more reason I like this guy. ;)

I hadn’t read a book aloud since — oh, stories before bedtime with my dad when I was 5 — but it ended up being a really fun way to work through the book. And I think we both totally enjoyed getting to process everything page-by-page with one another, and see what sort of stuff it rustled up inside each of us. We both agreed that the theme of the book is really nothing new — it seems like everyone I know is constantly re-assessing priorities, and trying to make more time and space in life for the things that are most essential. But I liked how the author took it a step further and basically asserted at the very beginning that the most all of the things in life are non-essential, and that our life’s work is learning how to discern and protect the very few things that actually are. An interesting perspective. But as opposed to many books in this genre, which I think usually have one good idea and then fill up the rest of the book with 90% fluff, the rest of the book was actually full of some really helpful advice for how to actually go about “essentializing” your life.

A few months after the trip, we’re still talking about this book all the time, and the various ways that we’re trying to put this stuff into practice in each of our lives. We’ve both made some progress, but still have a ways to go for sure. But this weekend, we took the author’s advice and actually did put one of his ideas into action — we did our first little “quarterly retreat!” Well, we didn’t have time to slip away for an entire day or weekend (which he recommends) for reflection. But we did go over to my friend (and fellow Essentialism-reader) Sarah’s house for the evening, where the three of us sat around and drank wine, and ate cheese and crackers, and polished off a huge bowl of this salad, and got really honest with each other as we talked through the “quarterly questionnaire” about what’s essential in our lives. And it was so awesome.

Yet one more reason I like these friends. (And this salad.)

5-Ingredient Arugula Salad with Parmesan, Lemon and Olive Oil -- super easy, and always so fresh and tasty! |

Turns out that fancy New Zealand wineries and Essentialism and a cute boyfriend pair quite well together. ;)

For some reason, the Essentialism quarterly questionnaire isn’t in the book. (If any of you are interested in having a copy of the questionnaire, just email me and I’ll send you the one that my friend sent us. Update: I actually included the questionnaire in this recent blog post!)  But it’s basically just a bunch of questions that you can revisit each quarter to check in with yourself, see what feels most essential right now, see what has changed over the past three months, set some goals for the next three months, etc. Stuff like:

  • What is the news in my life lately?
  • Where am I spending my time and resources?
  • What am I already committed to right now, and what’s on my calendar the next three months?
  • Are these things that are really essential, or are they no longer the things I should be doing?

A little cheesy, but I totally love that sort of stuff. And I really love the idea of revisiting this stuff every 3 months. Seems like a good schedule to me. :)

And next quarter, I already want to make this salad again!

5-Ingredient Arugula Salad with Parmesan, Lemon and Olive Oil -- super easy, and always so fresh and tasty! |

Actually, I make this one all the time, and kind of assumed that the rest of the world did too. But after I shared it on Snapchat the other day and had a bunch of you ask for the recipe, and then when Barclay and Sarah both raved about it and asked what was in it the other night, I figured it might be worth a share on here.

Because I’m pretty sure it’s truly one of the quickest and easiest salads you can ever make. And one of the tastiest.

All you need are 5 easy ingredients:

  • fresh baby arugula
  • freshly-grated Parmesan
  • freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • freshly-cracked black pepper
  • olive oil

So much freshness. :)

5-Ingredient Arugula Salad with Parmesan, Lemon and Olive Oil -- super easy, and always so fresh and tasty! |

I never measure the ingredients in mine. Just drizzle some olive oil on top of a bowl of arugula, squeeze on some lemon juice (and zest if you’d like), crack some black pepper on top, and then I like to grate and shave some Parmesan on top.

Toss it all up…

5-Ingredient Arugula Salad with Parmesan, Lemon and Olive Oil -- super easy, and always so fresh and tasty! |

..and within minutes (or really, about a minute), this fresh and oh-so-flavorful salad is ready to go.

You can serve it as a side salad, you can make it a main and add in some salmon/chicken/other protein if you’d like, or you can do what I often do — eat the whole dang thing plain as my entire meal. I make a huge bowl of it regularly and enjoy every single bite. So good.

And all the better, of course, shared with good friends over good conversation about the essential stuff in life. ;)

So seriously, make this salad!

And if you fall into the always-busy, always-trying-to-do-it-all, always-trying-to-slow-down category in life, I really do recommend checking out that book too. I think you’d probably enjoy it. (And if you do read it, shoot me a note and let me know what you think about it. I’d love to hear!)

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Arugula Salad with Parmesan, Lemon and Olive Oil

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.9 from 9 reviews
  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x


This Arugula Salad with Parmesan, Lemon and Olive Oil is so fresh and flavorful. Plus, it only calls for 5 easy ingredients and can be made in minutes!


  • 2 handfuls fresh baby arugula
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly-grated Parmesan, plus extra shavings as garnish
  • 2 teaspoons good-quality olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper


  1. Add arugula and Parmesan to a large mixing bowl.  Drizzle evenly with olive oil and lemon juice, and sprinkle with black pepper.  Toss until combined.
  2. Serve immediately, garnished with extra Parmesan if desired.


*I never (ever) actually measure the ingredients for this recipe, but the proportions above are a basic place to help get you started.  Feel free to just taste it and add extra lemon, Parm, pepper or lemon juice as you see fit.

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5-Ingredient Arugula Salad with Parmesan, Lemon and Olive Oil -- super easy, and always so fresh and tasty! |

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59 comments on “Arugula Salad with Parmesan, Lemon and Olive Oil”

  1. So simple, soooo delicious. This looks fantastic! 

  2. This looks so simple and delicious.

    All of my favorite, favorite flavors!

  3. I make this salad all the time too!  I love it, just wish I could get my green avoiding boys to go for it too! 

  4. Nice recipe and I would prefer to add some crunchy or nutty ingredients. Healthy and super easy salad.

  5. So interesting! This is the first I’ve heard of this book but I for sure want to pick up a copy and do the questionnaire! And the salad looks delicious! 

    Thanks for sharing! 


  6. Absolutely gorgeous salad!! Would love to receive a copy of the Questionnaire; thank you.

  7. Omg! I LOVE arugula for my lunch at work. I’ll make some sort of salad with it, and it’s like you read my mind! I was going to look for a new recipe this weekend, and now I don’t have to. Looks amazing, thank you!

  8. I have been making  a similar salad for a few years.  I drizzle a little honey in with tha dressing  ingredients and add shelled pistachios.  I love it as much as chocolate!  

    • Ooooh we think the pistachios and honey sound yummy — we’ll have to try that next time!

  9. LOVEEEE arugula! And easy recipes with arugula ;) Totally pulling this together soon. Mmm. Thanks for sharing!

  10. I make this all the time–or versions of it.  Sometimes I add balsamic vinegar and use Blue Cheese or Gorgonzola.  You can also add apples, dried cranberries, etc.  It is the easiest and I never measure anything either.

  11. Forgot to add toasted pine nuts.  It really adds something to this salad.

  12. Simple yet delicious salads like this are my go to. I always have to remind myself that things don’t have to be complicated to be good!

  13. First of all, your photography is wonderful! I can’t get a good picture of anything in my kitchen because there’s no natural light and the counter tops are a weird grainy tan. Second, do you think spinach would taste just as good? 

    • Thanks for your sweet words Liz! We think you could definitely use spinach in this, though if you do, we would recommend adding some extra freshly-ground pepper (the arugula gives it a nice peppery bite that you don’t get with spinach). We hope you enjoy this!

  14. Oh I was one of those people who desperately wanted the recipe after seeing you make it on Snapchat! :) So happy you posted this, Ali! Can’t wait to try!

  15. This looks so delicious and fresh! I loved hearing about your New Zealand adventures and am a bit jealous! How fun!! Always love seeing your recipes, they always looks so fresh. 

  16. Our fav is arugula with thinly sliced pears on top. Sprinkle with candy pecan pieces and dried cranberries. 

  17. I do this salad all the time. Your sis, Sarah, told me about it after they took a cooking class. If I don’t have arugula, then other green work, too.

  18. This is basically the same recipe for my favorite salad at spin pizza! So good!

  19. I will have to check this book out soon and the salad is definitely making the lunch menu!

  20. A local restaurant has a beet and pear arugula salad, and it’s my JAM right now. 

  21. Making this on Monday to pair with homemade veggie pizza. Can’t wait!

  22. Love this salad!  This book looks interesting.  Please send the questionnaire.  Thanks!

  23. This salad is simple, yes, but it is one of my absolute favorites! I love the peppery arugula with sharp parmesan, bright lemon, and fruity extra virgin olive oil. Awesome job, and I love your “in-action” photo! My fiancé and I are working our way through ‘The Five Love Languages’ as part of our pre-marital counseling sessions with our officiant. I have been reading it aloud to us before bed a few nights a week, and while it was different at first, we too love it! :) You and your boyfriend are so sweet together. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the book. I had never heard of it, but maybe he and I can read it together next!

  24. Hi, will it be okay to substitute hard cheeses like Manchego or Gruyere to the parmesan?

    • Hi Ida — yes, you could most definitely use those cheeses instead. We hope you enjoy the salad!

  25. Thanks! I brought this salad to a BBQ party last September and it was a hit! I used Manchego cheese and it blended perfectly with the taste of the Arugula. :)

    • We’re glad to hear that, Ida — and the manchego cheese sounds fabulous! :)

  26. I make a version of this, inspired by one I’ve had at The Cheesecake Factory. It’s pretty much the same as yours (sometimes I use lemon olive oil), but I throw in some golden raisins and Marcona almonds. Takes it over the top!

  27. This with toasted pine nuts is divine!

    • We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Jill, and we love the idea of adding some toasted pine nuts!

  28. I make a similar version of this salad by adding fennel to it. It is the best salad ever! I’m guilty of eating the entire huge bowl by myself, but at least it’s salad!

  29. Love this dish. Keeping it simple is sometimes the best. Your photos are beautiful!

  30. Oh my! This simple salad is AMAZING! I’m eating it as I type. I added a few things to it (cucumber, onion, and Asiago because I don’t have any parmesan) but it’s still yummtastic!
    Ali, thanks so much for your 5 ingredient recipes. They are so delicious and satisfying. Please keep them coming!


  32. I was captivated by the gorgeous photo and simplicity of this salad: just the right mix of flavors. I’d love a copy of the questionnaire too! Our family is going away for the President’s Day Weekend with friends we’ve known for over 15 years and I’m bringing the salad and would love to use the questionnaire as a springboard. Thanks, Ali!

  33. This is my go-to side when making Italian food. Everyone who has tried it loves it!

  34. Oooo definitely gonna try this. I think I’ll add some pine nuts or almond slivers in to add a little yummy crunch.

  35. There are many versions of Essentialism, which one were you reading. Also – GREAT salad, can make in less than five minutes as a perfect side salad.

  36. Simple, easy, and delicious. Quickest salad & dressing I’ve ever made.

  37. someone gave me a whole bag (huge) of arugula and it tastes very bitter by itself. . I didn’t want to waste it so I tried looking up recipes for arugula salad, and found this. All ingredients I already had and simple. I guess the lemon counteracts the bitterness of the arugula because it gave it a nice taste and not as bitter. It was delicious and I just ate a whole big bowl.

  38. Our current favorite salad. Even the kids love it.

  39. I make this salad frequently also! The only thing I do different is I add cut up Granny Smith apple. Thanks for sharing!

  40. Had lots of extra arugula from a pasta salad recipe, so went looking for some simple
    recipe that would use up the rest. Found yours. Never have really used “real” parmesan,
    so this seemed like a good excuse. Thanks for the idea. Haven’t made it yet.. Looking
    forward to trying it tomorrow.

  41. Made this tonight. So easy and incredibly delicious. Works perfectly with arugula! I added pine nuts for an added crunch.

  42. One of my absolute favorite salads! So yummy!