Confession: I am someone who CRAVES salad. I know, I know, lots of people desire salad after they’ve eaten not so healthfully for a period of time, but I actually crave a big bowl of greens and veggies if I haven’t had one in a while. Please don’t throw internet tomatoes at me….
However, salad can be a bit boring. Lots of people (myself included!) often get into a salad rut, eating the same version over and over again. As much as I love my mixed field greens, they can be a bit boring. Enter arugula! If you’ve never had this bright, peppery green before, now is the time! I like baby arugula: it’s tender with a nice bite; the perfect bed for a punchy vinaigrette, like the lemon one I used below.
This salad was inspired by a delicious salad I had for lunch a few weeks ago at a cute cafeteria/food court-style restaurant near my office. One of the little restaurants is Italian and they offer tons of different salads, pastas and sandwiches. I decided on their arugula salad with candied walnuts, cranberries, goat cheese and this ridiculously amazing lemon dressing. The whole salad was yummy, but oh man, that dressing was just on point. It was a little thicker than a traditional oil and vinegar based dressing, and lemony without being bitter. It complemented the peppery greens just wonderfully, so I decided to recreate it at home! As good as it was, I’m not so thrilled at the prospect of spending $12 on a salad (especially for lunch!).
Although the salad at Pasta Cucina was delectable, candied walnuts and cranberries just seemed like cool weather ingredients, so I used what I had on hand for this gorgeous salad, including baby bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers (I always have at least three in my crisper. I have a problem.), celery and sunflower seeds for the nutty crunch factor. Because I needed a little protein, I cooked up a chicken breast that I marinated mojo style, which is a Cuban marinade with citrus and cumin – yum! One normal sized chicken breast should last over two large salads: 3-4 ounces for each salad.
The real star here is the lemon dressing – make a big batch of it and keep it in the fridge for up to a week! It’s delicious on grilled or baked fish, chicken, or grilled veggies!
I hope you try this the next time your salad craving hits (or the “I really should eat a salad today” thought enters your brain)!
arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette.
inspired by arugula salad at Pasta Cucina.
1 6-8 ounce cooked chicken breast, cut into cubes
1.5-2 cups baby arugula
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/4 English cucumber, thinly sliced
1-2 celery stalks, chopped
2 baby bell peppers, chopped
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
few dashes of white wine vinegar (about a 1/2 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon wildflower honey
scant 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 small shallot, chopped
salt and pepper
dash dried thyme
Instructions for dressing: Add all ingredients to blender or food processor and blend until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Keep in air tight container in refrigerator. Will keep up to one week.
Note: This dressing is on the acidic side; I prefer closer to a 1:1 ratio of oil to acid, rather than the widely used 3:1 ratio. Adjust the acid and oil to your personal taste preferences.
Add all salad ingredients into a large bowl. Pour 1-2 tablespoons of dressing on salad and toss gently to combine. Enjoy immediately. Makes enough for 1 dinner salad or 2 smaller, lunch sized portions.
**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible**