When you need a simple salad to make the meal complete, this tumble of arugula and shaved fennel is all you need. I find the combo of peppery arugula and sweet, crunchy fennel so delightfully addictive — so much so that I'll sometimes eat a big bowlful with just a wedge of toasted baguette and call that dinner.
The salad takes seconds to make, even counting the time to shake together the easy vinaigrette of lemon juice and olive oil. Pair it with grilled salmon or serve it alongside an eggy brunch casserole — this arugula salad will suit whatever is on the table.
I tend to go light with the dressing on my salads. I like enough to coat the greens and add some flavor to each bite, but not so much that the dressing overwhelms the greens themselves — or worse, makes them soggy. That, to me, makes for a very sad salad, indeed.
With this salad, arugula is the star and I want those leaves as crunchy and fresh as possible. To avoid any sad salad incidents, I recommend tossing the greens with half the amount of salad dressing, then adding more a little at a time until you've dressed the salad to your liking.
I whole-heartedly support tweaking this salad to your liking. I could see mixing some finely shredded pecorino into the dressing itself to make it creamier or tossing some pistachios into the mix. If you don't have fennel in your fridge, try adding some thinly sliced apples or some segments of grapefruit. Arugula makes a very nice tableau for all sorts of ingredients!
Arugula Salad with Fennel & Lemon Vinaigrette
Serves 4 as a side
5 ounces (about 5 packed cups) arugula, washed and dried
1 small fennel bulb, shaved on a mandoline or thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Juice of one lemon (about 2 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Pecorino, to serve
Combine the arugula and shaved fennel in a serving bowl. Combine the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and a few grinds of pepper in a jam jar or other small container with a lid. Shake the dressing until smooth and cream. Dip a leaf of arugula into the dressing and taste; adjust any of the dressing ingredients to taste. Pour half the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. Add more dressing a little bit at a time until you have dressed the salad sufficiently to your liking.
Use a vegetable peeler to shave a few slices of pecorino over the top of the salad. Serve immediately.
- Spring green mix can be used in place of the arugula.
- Any extra dressing will keep, covered, in the fridge for weeks.
(Image credits: Emma Christensen)