The Little Green Salad

The Little Green Salad

Sometimes I think of this blog as an ever-expanding cookbook and try to fill in the holes. What’s missing? The other day, as I was throwing together my standard green salad to accompany some leftovers, I realized that my blog is missing a side salad recipe. Every cook needs a little green salad recipe in her repertoire, in the same way as every lady needs a flattering little black dress in her wardrobe. They’re both fundamental building blocks.

lemon vinaigrette and arugula salad

This simple green salad is my default. I love the combination of peppery local arugula tossed with lemon vinaigrette, savory grated Parmesan and toasted nuts. I often serve it as is or dress it up with some seasonal ingredients. I thought I’d share a few of those variations to serve as inspiration.

Basic arugula salad and additional toppings

Starting from the top, we have some refreshing sliced cucumber and radish with chopped almonds. Then comes bright cherry tomatoes, avocado and sunflower seeds. Last, I tossed the arugula with fennel and pine nuts for an understated, gourmet little green salad. That idea was inspired by the pages of Martha Stewart Living’s June issue and it might be my favorite of the three. I’d equate it to wearing a little black dress with diamond studs and gold bangles. Classy!

Arugula salad variations

I should confess that when I make this salad for myself, it’s not always so little. Sometimes, especially in the summertime when I’m craving lighter fare, I’ll make a big salad so I’m satisfied with one slice of leftover pizza instead of three.

Either way, I’d say the flavors in this green salad pair well with most main courses, especially if they have an Italian or Mediterranean flair. Pasta, pesto, pizza and bruschetta come to mind. Even though I’m not much of a meat eater, I think it would also go well with fish, chicken or steak. Please let me know what you think of it. I’d be super pleased if this LGS became your new favorite side salad, too.

Arugula, radish, cucumber and almond saladArugula, Fennel and Pine Nut Salad

The Little Green Salad
5.0 from 2 reviews
Prep time: 
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A fresh arugula side salad with Parmesan and toasted nuts, tossed in a simple lemon vinaigrette. It's wonderful as is but feel free to change it up with my suggested variations or put your own seasonal spin on it.
Salad (no amounts given, you can eyeball this)
  • Arugula
  • Small nuts or seeds, toasted (pine nuts, sunflower seeds and sliced almonds are great)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan
Lemon vinaigrette (yields enough for 6 to 8 small side salads, leftovers will keep in the fridge for several weeks)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (more to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch freshly ground black pepper
Suggested variations
  • Sliced cherry tomatoes, avocado and sunflower seeds
  • Thinly sliced cucumbers, radishes and almonds
  • Thinly sliced fennel and pine nuts
  1. Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl (or a jar with a watertight lid), whisk together (or shake) the ingredients until emulsified.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the arugula with a handful of toasted nuts and grated Parmesan (don't skimp). Add a drizzle of dressing and toss until the salad is lightly coated throughout. If desired, toss in the suggested add-ins. Serve immediately.

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  1. says

    Nice post and nice reminder of how great even the simplest things in life are. What is better than a basic vinaigrette over some lightly adorned greens? As your post aptly shows – very little! Here’s hoping your weekend is full of summer, and greens!

  2. jes says

    The other day my mom, grandma, and I went to lunch specifically looking for a little green salad. Luckily I knew a place that was perfect. Now that summer is here that place will be my house soon! Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. says

    I have been living on little green salads lately! I love to switch up the salad greens and use kale, arugula, or a herb mix. Roasted red peppers and julienned carrots work well too. I’ve tried a pesto vinaigrette and that’s amazing too. A trick is to sprinkle some dried herbes de provence over everything before tossing for some extra flavor. Works wonders!

  4. says

    I love how fresh and light this salad looks and sounds. It looks like the type of salad you make right after a trip to the farmer’s market, which is my favorite type!

  5. says

    Long live the LGS. It is SO classy and generally the first thing I bee line to at any food-focused gathering. 3/4 of the plate covered in greens and then I think about eating some other stuff, usually complaining that there’s no more room on my plate. Fancy lady dilemma! Pretty, pretty photos Kathryne.

  6. says

    Everyone has a favourite little green salad and this one looks beautiful. I love that you’re filling in the gaps on your blog to make it more complete – can’t wait to see what comes next!

  7. says

    That lemon vinaigrette looks so delicious – I love the bright colour!

    Also, fennel and pine nuts are SO good together – the idea of dressing up a simple rocket salad with them is fantastic!

  8. says

    Lately my LBS has been Ottolenghi’s spinach and date salad (really…amazing. make it.) but I think now that summer is here I need to incorporate more of the season’s produce into my life! Enter YOUR LBS. Which will likely become MY LBS. Love it.

  9. says

    Gotta love a simple salad like this! Also, I treat my blog like a little cookbook too! It can be so fun finding stuff that’s missing and then creating it :)

  10. says

    I completely agree – a side salad can make or break a meal. I love the combination of spicy arugula and the bright dressing. Perfect!

  11. says

    Sounds like a great combination to me, I love the way you describe it in the second paragraph. We’ve been having a lot of salads for dinner lately around here :) Too hot for anything else!

  12. Claire says

    I’m excited to try your dressing- I have a go-to honey basalmic I always make (especially when I have company). I forsee this making its way into the rotation!

  13. says

    I love your little black dress/salad analogy. Perfect!! It’s funny how we don’t always remember to share these basics… and I eat a salad almost every day. And it’s fun to see your go-to salad set up. I feel like we’re eating lunch together.
    I share so many of the same loves… arugula, toasted nuts, shaved parm, avo… I’m getting hungry now.
    Hope you are well Kathryne,

  14. says

    hi kate! what a perfect little salad, but i’m thinking mine won’t be so little. after a 10 day trip back to NYC to see family and friends, i feel like greens on a very-large-scale is just what i need. oh sure, bagels, pizza, doughnuts and challah bread are a must-eat when back in the boroughs of the big-bad city…but now that i’ve returned to colorado, it’s time for some good old fashioned greens, drizzled with an awesome sounding vinaigrette. thanks for the post!

  15. says

    I like the idea of a little black dress side salad. I would always get requests from friends to bring “that balsamic salad” whenever there was a party so I guess that must be mine!

  16. says

    Love this, Kathryne! You’re right -the side salad is the little black dress we all need in our closet, and I, too, am always looking for one. Like you, I like my side salad turned into a main salad on warm days. :)

  17. Claire says

    I have made this 3 times now (with cucumber and radish) and it’s fantastic! Thank you for posting.

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