Cooling Summer Salads
Baby Arugula and Nectarine Salad is cooling, crunchy, and full of flavor! We generally make some kind of salad once a day to help us stay cool during the hot summer months. Bitter greens like arugula are especially good for you in summer, as the bitter taste is cooling and good for the cardiovascular system. And the lemon-white balsamic vinaigrette is the perfect compliment to the bitter arugula greens.
Baby Arugula and Nectarine Salad as Part of Italian Menu
This summery baby arugula salad was born the other night when we were having a friend over for dinner and needed something to go with baked white fish and butternut squash risotto. In the fridge we had some baby arugula, baby tomatoes, a little fresh fennel, fresh basil and mint, and a lemon.
As I put the salad ingredients together, I saw a nectarine ripening on the counter, and wondered if it would go with the other ingredients. It turns out it was the perfect complement to the basil and mint, and the sweetness of the nectarine balanced out the bitterness of the arugula.
The third time I made this salad I added some organic feta cheese which made it look extra beautiful. If you’d prefer, you could put some toasted sliced almonds, pistachios, pecans, or homemade croutons on top of the salad instead of the cheese.
Add Fresh Herbs to Arugula Salads for Flavor
In addition to arugula greens, this salad has fresh basil and mint. The herbs on my back porch are doing great, thanks to daily watering and a burlap shade structure (from Costco) my husband hung over part of the deck. It’s just enough to block some of the harshest sun in the afternoon.
Lemon-White Balsamic Vinaigrette
For the dressing, I used a white balsamic vinegar to go along with some lemon juice and olive oil to make a simple vinaigrette. Add some lemon zest to make it extra flavorful.
But feel free to use any high quality balsamic vinegar and olive oil combination you like. I especially like the balsamic vinegar varieties at Con’ Olio. The sweetness of the dressing helps to balance out the bitterness of the arugula.Print
- 5 ounces baby arugula (about 5–6 handfuls)
- 1/2 fennel bulb or 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn or sliced
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves, sliced
- zest of 1 lemon (yellow part only)
- 2 nectarines (or peaches), pitted and sliced into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup baby tomatoes, halved
- In a large prep bowl, toss together arugula, fennel, basil, mint, and lemon zest.
- Using tongs, lightly dress salad with some of the lemon-white balsamic vinaigrette (below).
- Place salad onto individual salad plates or one large salad bowl or platter.
- Decorate the salad with nectarines and tomatoes. Drizzle with a little extra dressing, if desired.
- Whisk together lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar, olive oil (drizzle in slowly), a couple large pinches of sea salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.
- Add some crumbled feta cheese, cubed fresh mozzarella, or some kind of toasted nut (sliced almonds, pistachios, or pecans) to the top of the salad along with the nectarines and tomatoes.
- Sub peaches for nectarines, which usually come out earlier in the summer than nectarines.
Other Summer Salads from Cook Love Heal