Meet my go-to side salad recipe. I hope it becomes yours, too. This simple salad features fresh arugula and the world’s easiest homemade balsamic salad dressing.
This salad truly could not be more easy to make. In fact, it’s so easy that I’ve hesitated to share it with you. It’s hardly a recipe, but one that I make constantly. It’s about time that I bring this method to your attention, you say?
Side salads should be easy to prepare, and this one is so delicious that it doesn’t taste like an afterthought. It goes with just about everything—think Italian entrées like lasagna, sandwiches, scrambled eggs, and even holiday meals.
You can use this salad formula with any type of leafy green, but arugula is my favorite. You’ll eat more healthy greens if you keep this recipe in your back pocket. Here we go!
Balsamic Vinegar Options
The key to this salad’s success is using thick balsamic vinegar, not regular runny balsamic. My absolute favorite is Napa Valley Naturals Grand Reserve Balsamic Vinegar (affiliate link/be sure the bottle says “25 stars” on it). It’s typically under $10 at Whole Foods or Natural Grocers.
Or, use store-bought or homemade balsamic glaze. Keep reading to learn how to make your own.
How to Make Homemade Balsamic Glaze
Bring 1 cup (or more) runny balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small, thick bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring often, until the vinegar is reduced by half, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Allow the reduction to cool, then transfer to an air-tight jar and store in the pantry.
More Uses for Thick Balsamic Vinegar or Balsamic Glaze
Can you tell that I’m a little obsessed? Add a drizzle of balsamic to any of the following recipes:
- Caprese Salad
- Easy Tomato Salad
- Strawberry, Basil and Balsamic Pizza or Ultimate Veggie Pizza
- Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries & Pecans
- Vanilla ice cream or plain/vanilla yogurt with fresh berries, cherries or stone fruit
Please let me know how you like this simple side salad in the comments below! I love hearing from you.
Super Simple Arugula Salad
- Prep Time: 3 minutes
- Total Time: 3 minutes
- Yield: 1 side salad 1x
- Category: Salad, side dish
- Method: By hand
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Gluten Free
Make this simple arugula salad recipe with balsamic vinegar and olive oil! It takes seconds to prepare. Meet your new favorite side salad! Make as many side salads as you’d like with this basic formula.
- A couple handfuls of arugula (about 1 ½ cups)
- Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
- Lighter drizzle of thick balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze*
- Optional: Light sprinkle of finely grated aged cheese, such as Parmesan or even cheddar
- Small pinch of flaky sea salt, kosher salt or fine salt
- Freshly ground black pepper or pinch of red pepper flakes
- Add a couple handfuls of arugula to a bowl or small plate. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, followed by a lighter drizzle of balsamic vinegar (the ratio is really up to you—balsamic is sweeter than most other vinegars, so you might enjoy equal parts vinegar and oil).
- Sprinkle with cheese, if desired. Sprinkle with a small pinch of flaky sea salt, crushing it between your fingers as you sprinkle, or other salt (use a little more salt if not using cheese, which is salty).
- Finish the salad with a couple twists of freshly ground black pepper or a small pinch of red pepper flakes. Repeat for additional salads, if needed. Enjoy promptly, as the salad will wilt over time.
*Balsamic recommendations: The key to this salad is using quality balsamic vinegar that is thick instead of runny like most other vinegars. My favorite is Napa Valley Naturals Grand Reserve Balsamic Vinegar (be sure the bottle says “25 stars” on it). Or, use store-bought or homemade balsamic glaze (see post for how to make the glaze).
Make it dairy free/vegan: Simply don’t add the optional cheese. It’s still great without it.