The 5 Easiest-Ever Side Salads You Need to Memorize ASAP

Welcome to Snapshot Cooking, the home of Kitchn’s easiest recipes. These mini recipes are so simple you can practically cook from the before-and-after snapshot itself.

A great side dish is the secret to a complete and satisfying meal — and the best sides are the ones you can whip up without a recipe. Because a simple side salad can pair with just about anything you’re eating, we’ve taken the omnipresent clamshell of lettuce in your fridge and transformed it into five colorful side salads your family will be excited to dig into. We love arugula for its peppery kick, but feel free to swap in your favorite lettuce base, be it spinach, kale, or romaine.

5 Snapshot Recipes for 5-Ingredient Side Salads

  • Each recipe calls for 1 (5-ounce) clamshell or bag of arugula — either baby or regular — plus 4 additional ingredients.
  • We assume you have olive oil, salt, and pepper, so those aren’t included in our ingredient count.
  • All salads serve 4 to 6 as a side dish. You can add a protein like cooked chicken, shrimp, salmon, or steak to turn them into a main dish for 4.

Strawberry-Basil Arugula Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Whisk 3 tablespoons olive oil with 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds black pepper in a large bowl. Add 5 ounces (about 5 packed cups) arugula and 2 cups sliced strawberries; toss to combine. Add 1/2 cup roasted pistachios (either unsalted or salted is fine) and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves. Toss again lightly and serve.

Shaved Fennel and Arugula Salad with Parmesan and Pine Nuts

Whisk 3 tablespoons olive oil with 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds black pepper in a large bowl. Add 5 ounces (about 5 packed cups) arugula and 1 shaved or thinly sliced small fennel bulb; toss to combine. Add 2 ounces shaved Parmesan cheese (about 2/3 cup) and 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts. Toss again lightly and serve.

Beet and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad

Whisk 3 tablespoons olive oil with 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper in a large bowl. Chop 1 (8-ounce) package steamed beets and add it to the bowl along with 5 ounces (about 5 packed cups) arugula; toss to combine. Add 4 ounces crumbled fresh goat cheese (about 1 cup), toss again lightly, and serve.

Avocado and Cucumber Arugula Salad

Whisk 3 tablespoons olive oil with the finely grated zest and juice of 1 medium lemon, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper in a large bowl. Thinly slice 1/2 medium English cucumber into half-moons and thinly slice 1 small bunch radishes. Add both to the bowl along with 5 ounces (about 5 packed cups) arugula and toss to combine. Add 1 diced medium avocado, toss again lightly, and serve.

Watermelon, Feta, and Arugula Salad

Whisk 3 tablespoons olive oil with the zest and juice of 1 medium lemon, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper in a large bowl. Add 5 ounces (about 5 packed cups) arugula and 2 cups (1-inch) watermelon cubes; toss to combine. Add 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese (about 1 cup) and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves. Toss again lightly and serve.

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