I often fall into a salad rut. It’s easy for salads to get boring. But let me give you a little tip: it’s also easy to get really creative with those salad ingredients. Boring salads be gone!
I love arugula for a lot of reasons. Some people aren’t sure about the peppery taste of arugula, but I find that the right dressing really mellows it out, and the hardy flavor helps it stand up well to heartier salad ingredients like roasted squash, nuts, pomegranate seeds, and avocados. And that dark green color really makes for a beautiful salad!
There’s a great arugula salad in JoyFoodly’s online kitchen learning lab, the Joyful 12, which is good enough to convert any salad skeptic. After making it a few times I got inspired to change it up with what I have on hand, using arugula as a base. I wanted to share some of my combinations, but you can use these basic principles to build your own salad any day of the week!
For most arugula salads, I love using a basic dressing made up of olive oil, champagne vinegar, dijon mustard, lemon juice, and some minced shallots for an extra level of flavor. A fun alternative is a cumin lime vinaigrette, which pairs great with most of these salad toppings. For tips on creating your own dressing, see Chef Hollie’s recent post on salad dressings!
Think of fruits and veggies that have a texture you like. Avocados are always a nice addition to any salad (or any meal, am I right?), and in the winter I think persimmons add a nice flavor and texture to a salad.
Not all salads have to be “light”. It’s nice to really feel like you’re eating something substantial. I often add ingredients that give the salad some crunch, like pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds, or even nuts.
Arugula salads go great with roasted root veggies like sweet potatoes or fingerlings. Just slice them up, lightly coat in olive oil and a dash of salt (feel free to throw in some cumin or curry powder!), and roast in the oven on high heat (400 – 450F) until you like the texture! It’s always important to use a pan with low sides so that the heat can actually reach the veggies evenly. I love slicing and roasting delicata squash when it’s in season, which forms pretty yellow half-moons that look great (and taste even better!) in the salad.
Does fruit on a salad seem weird to you? Get rid of that thought right now! Fruit is a great addition to salad, both for all the great textures and flavors it can offer. I like to add apples for some crunch, or stone fruit like nectarines for the sweetness and texture. Dried fruits are also easy additions to keep around the kitchen. I even like adding mango every once in a while – can’t go wrong there!