This is one of those “accidental” recipes that ended up being one of the best things I’ve ever made. Salmon, Goat Cheese, and Arugula Salad is perfect for the summer and a GREAT way to use up leftover cold salmon (although next time, I’ll be making extra salmon to have leftover on purpose just so I can make it again). And the dressing! I want to put this dressing on everything. It’s the perfect balance of tangy and salty while still being smooth and mellow. It goes perfectly with the peppery arugula- and it has a secret ingredient that helps emulsify it and make it creamy with NO dairy!
Really, if I’m being honest, the star of this recipe is the dressing. And the secret ingredient? Nothing more than a teeny little dollop of mayo! Adding a bit of mayonnaise (about a teaspoon for this recipe for two salads) to any oil/vinegar dressing will help emulsify the ingredients, so the oil and vinegar don’t separate. In the case of this dressing, lemon juice is used instead of vinegar, but it separates in a similar way. Try it with a balsamic vinaigrette, or a simple red wine vinegar/olive oil mixture. I picked this tip up from my cousin, who made a dressing with a bit of mayo, some fresh dill, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, and olive oil a few Christmases ago.
I like to make the dressing before assembling the salad to let the flavors marry a bit. Just whisk together the mayo, lemon juice, kosher salt, and a bit of fresh minced garlic (just a little- you don’t want to overpower the dressing with raw garlic flavor). While whisking, gradually add olive oil. Whisk vigorously until the dressing is a uniform, creamy consistency. Test it out and make sure there’s enough salt- and try not to lick the entire bowl before making the salad!
Next, build your salad. I often use this dressing on a simple arugula salad with nothing else as a side- arugula has such a unique flavor that it stands on its own quite well. Next time you need a simple side for a meal, try it out. THIS salad is a whole meal, and includes arugula, goat cheese, and cold cooked salmon, which flakes into perfect salad pieces with a fork. It’s perfection.
Hate mayo? Don’t worry- you can make this dressing without it. Just make sure you give it a vigorous whisk right before drizzling onto the salad, as the ingredients will tend to separate a bit more.
Love salmon? Try these other easy recipes:
- Garlic Butter Sheet Pan Salmon and Veggies
- 15-Minute Perfect Poached Salmon with Chive Butter
- Orange Glazed Salmon
- Salmon, Arugula, and Feta Frittata
- One-Pan Garlic Butter Salmon and Swiss Chard
- Chipotle Salmon Tacos with Cilantro Lime Crema
- Seared Salmon with Scallion Butter
- Seared Salmon with Avocado, Lemon, and Garlic Aioli
- Garlic Poached Salmon with Creamy Lemon Caper Sauce
Recipe below! The portions are for 2 entree salads, or 4 appetizer/first course salads. A word to the wise: the proportions are VERY forgiving in both the recipe and the salad. It’s foolproof. Don’t go crazy measuring things exactly, and make sure you test the dressing to see if it has enough salt, or if it tastes too acidic just add more olive oil.
Salmon, Goat Cheese, and Arugula Salad with Creamy Lemon Garlic Dressing
- To make the dressing, whisk together the lemon juice, mayonnaise (1 tablespoon), kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon), and minced garlic (1 small clove) in the bottom of a large bowl. Gradually drizzle in olive oil (3 tablespoons) while still whisking. Continue whisking until dressing is a smooth, creamy consistency.
- Add the arugula(4 oz.), cooked salmon (4 oz.), and crumbled goat cheese (2 oz.) to the bowl with the dressing. Toss to coat.
- Serve on two plates for an entree or four for a side/first course.