Arugula Salad with Whole-Lemon Vinaigrette

Arugula Salad with Whole-Lemon Vinaigrette

The thought of using an entire lemon—flesh, peel, and all—might sound nothing short of crazy, but it’s no-waste brilliance at its very best. Not only are you throwing away half of the citrus fruit when you simply squeeze out its juice and toss the spent halves, you’re missing out on big flavor, too. The vibrant peel, bitter pith, and lip-puckering flesh are bold elements that, when combined with buttery almonds, a touch of sweet honey, and a generous glug of olive oil, make for a complex vinaigrette that’s unlike anything you’ve had before. It’s the perfect counterpart for just about any type of lettuce, but it’s especially lovely with arugula because it balances the greens’ peppery bite. 

Photography © Kristin Teig; book copyright SALAD SEASONS: VEGETABLE-FORWARD DISHES ALL YEAR by Sheela Prakash © Rizzoli, 2023

A cookbook cover for "Salad Seasons"

Courtesy of Rizzoli

Buy Now: Salad Seasons: Vegetable-Forward Dishes All Year

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup raw almonds

  • 1 small lemon

  • 1 clove clove garlic

  • 1 teaspoon honey

  • kosher salt

  • ground black pepper

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 5 ounces arugula

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients gathered for arugula salad with whole lemon dressing

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Spread the almonds out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven, stirring halfway through, until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.

    almonds lightly toasted on a sheet tray

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Trim the stem end off the lemon, cut the lemon into quarters, and remove any seeds.

    lemon cut into quarters on cutting board

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Transfer to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and pulse until roughly chopped, about 15 pulses (see Note). Take a peek to see if you missed any seeds, and if so, remove them with a spoon.

    whole lemons pulsed in a food processor

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. Add half of the almonds, the garlic, honey, a generous pinch of salt, and several grinds of pepper. Pulse until the lemon and almonds are finely chopped, scraping down the sides of the food processor as needed, about 30 pulses more.

    whole lemon vinaigrette pulsed until smooth in food processor

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. Transfer the lemon and almond mixture to an airtight jar or container. Add the olive oil, seal the jar, and shake to combine and emulsify.

    whole lemon vinaigrette in screw top glass jar

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  7. Place the arugula in a large salad bowl, drizzle with half the vinaigrette, and toss to combine. Add more vinaigrette, if desired, a spoonful at a time, until the salad is dressed to your liking. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Sprinkle with the remaining toasted almonds.

    arugula and toasted almonds in a bowl dressed with whole lemon vinaigrette

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Recipe Tip

No food processor? You can still make this vinaigrette by chopping the lemon and almonds by hand. The end result will be a bit rougher in texture but still delicious.

How to Store Vinaigrette

Store leftover vinaigrette right in its jar in the refrigerator for up to a week. I love spooning it on salmon, shrimp, white fish like cod or halibut, or chicken before baking in the oven, where it transforms into a bright and cheerful sauce.

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