Cool Summer Salads
It is mid-August and the weather is hot in Austin, Texas! We make a salad at least once a day to help us stay cool. We are in love with Summer Nectarine and Arugula Salad with Lemon-White Balsamic Vinaigrette as it is cooling, crunchy, and full of flavor!
Summer Nectarine and Arugula Salad as Part of Italian Menu
This summer 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. But feel free to use any high quality balsamic vinegar and olive oil combination you like. I think a dark balsamic would work well here, as would a flavored white balsamic vinegar like lemongrass-mint or peach. I especially like the balsamic varieties at Con’ Olio. The sweetness of the dressing helps to balance out the bitterness of the arugula.
- 5 ounces baby arugula (about 5-6 handfuls)
- 1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn or sliced
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves, sliced
- zest of 1 or 2 lemons (yellow part only)
- 2 nectarines, pitted and sliced into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup baby tomatoes, halved
- juice of 2 lemons (~6 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- 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.
Other Summer Salads from Cook Love Heal