Elegant Arugula and Tomato Salad with Balsamic Dressing is full of contrasting colors and vibrant flavors, making it just as pleasing to look at as it is to eat. Roma (plum) tomatoes roasted with a mixture of fresh herbs and olive oil are the star of this dish – and are bursting with tomato flavor. These tantalizing beauties are served atop peppery arugula and surrounded by briny Kalamata olives and delicate fresh Mozzarella cheese. It’s all finished with a luscious, slightly sweet while still tangy Balsamic Dressing.
Tomato Arugula Mozzarella Salad Recipe
This recipe comes from good friend – and incredibly talented home gourmet – Liane Clasen. One evening, Robert and I were at the Clasens for dinner, and as Liane brought this incredible salad to the table, just one look told me I was going to love it. Elegant but not fussy, it just drew me in – and I couldn’t wait to taste it. Well, I wasn’t disappointed! Such a wonderful mix of flavors – sweet, herb-y, tangy, fresh. I had to have the recipe – and Liane graciously provided it to me.
Ingredients – including substitutions and additions
What makes this recipe so fabulous is the roasted tomatoes. Roasting Italian (or Roma or plum) tomatoes concentrates the flavor and brings out their beautiful deep red tones. Regarding the other ingredients – you can substitute and/or add more, to your taste. Here’s what’s in the basic recipe, along with some suggested variations:
Arugula and Tomato Salad
- Plum (Italian or Roma) tomatoes – can also use large cherry tomatoes, just reduce the roasting time
- Fresh rosemary – can also use dried
- Fresh thyme leaves – can also use dried
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Baby arugula leaves – substitute wild arugula, or baby spinach leaves
- Fresh buffalo mozzarella – substitute goat or feta cheese
- Pitted Kalamata black olives – can use another type of black olive, or a mixture
- Balsamic vinegar – can use white instead of dark, for a lighter flavor
- Fresh garlic – can substitute chopped shallots
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground pepper
If you’re not a balsamic fan, then use a Sharp Dijon Vinaigrette (like ours in A Well-Seasoned Kitchen®) instead.
And, here are some possible additions:
- Toasted nuts (pine nuts, almonds, pecans, walnuts)
- Candied walnuts
- Bacon bits
- Sliced avocado
How to make Dressing for Arugula Salad
Once you start making salad dressings from scratch, you’ll never want to buy a prepared bottle again. Why? Because not only do the homemade ones taste much better, they’re super easy to prepare! Here’s all you have to do to make this delectable Balsamic Dressing:
- Combine all ingredients except oil.
Place balsamic vinegar, garlic and salt In a medium-sized jar (I use a pint jar) with a fitted lid. Whisk together.
- Add oil.
Slowly whisk in olive oil.
Add fresh ground pepper to taste. Add more salt as needed.
- Cover; let stand.
Cover dressing and let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, to allow the flavors to blend. Bring to room temperature before using.
How to Assemble Tomato Arugula Salad with Balsamic Dressing
The dressing and tomatoes can be prepped ahead of time, then assemble the salad shortly before serving, following these easy directions:
- Place arugula in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with a bit of dressing, season with salt and pepper and toss – not a lot of dressing, just enough to lightly coat the leaves. Spread arugula on a large serving platter.
- Arrange tomatoes, roasted side up, on top of the arugula, spreading them out.
- Gently cut cheese into slices (and then cut slices in half if large) and arrange around the tomatoes on the arugula.
- Sprinkle olives around the tomatoes and cheese.
- Drizzle lightly with more dressing. Season with more salt and pepper as needed.
Arugula Tomato Salad FAQs
This recipe calls for baby arugula, and it doesn’t need to be cut or chopped. I like to remove any longer stems – they are cumbersome to eat. If using wild arugula, definitely cut off the stems, as they can be bitter.
If you purchase arugula in a bunch, definitely wash it. Dunk it in cold water, then gently shake. Repeat as many times as needed until clean. Dry in a salad spinner or on paper towel before using. If you purchase arugula in a sealed bag, read the label to determine if it has been pre-washed.
What does Arugula and Tomato Salad pair well with?
There are many, many main dishes to serve with this salad; here are a few ideas:
- Parmesan Breaded Salmon with Herb Mayonnaise
- Roasted Salmon Steaks
- Poached Salmon
- Pistachio Crusted Fish
- Lemon-Rosemary Swordfish
- Grilled Rosemary-Dijon Chicken Breasts
- Grilled Chicken with Caramelized Red Onions
- Asian Marinated Pork Tenderloin
- Mustard Crusted Rack of Lamb
- Slow Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb
- Slow Roasted Beef Tenderloin
Storing Tomato Arugula Salad
Because this salad is serve dressed, it will not last long, maybe an hour, before it starts to wilt. That’s why I recommend assembling (and adding dressing) just before serving.
If you need to assemble the salad earlier (maybe you’re taking it to a pot luck), then I would serve the dressing on the side. After assembling, cover it with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Undressed, it will keep for a few hours. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Balsamic Dressing can be prepare up to 4 days ahead, covered and refrigerated. The tomatoes can be roasted earlier in the day, covered and held at room temperature. Bring dressing to room temperature before serving.
Undressed, it will last for a few hours. If dressing has been added, it won’t last – it will wilt.
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Tomatoes roasted with a mixture of fresh herbs and olive oil are the star in Arugula and Tomato Salad. These tantalizing beauties are served atop peppery arugula and surrounded by briny Kalamata olives and delicate fresh Mozzarella cheese. It’s all finished with a luscious, slightly sweet while still tangy Balsamic Dressing.
- 8 plum (Roma or Italian) tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1/4 cup + 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 8 cups baby arugula leaves
- 8 ounces fresh buffalo mozzarella
- 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata (or other type) black olives, cut in half if large
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cut tomatoes in half crosswise. Trim bottoms so they can sit upright. Gently squeeze out seeds.
- Place tomatoes, cut side up, on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with rosemary, thyme and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Drizzle 4 teaspoons of olive oil over the tomatoes.
- Roast for 45 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- While tomatoes are roasting, prepare the dressing: in a jar with a fitted lid, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, garlic, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup olive oil. Add fresh ground pepper to taste. Cover and store in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Bring to room temperature before using.
- When ready to serve the salad, toss some of the dressing with the arugula, salt and pepper; arrange on a large serving platter.
- Top with roasted tomatoes, roasted side up.
- Gently cut cheese into slices (and then cut in half if large) and arrange around the tomatoes on the arugula.
- Sprinkle with olives and drizzle with more dressing.
- Season with more salt and pepper as needed.
Make ahead: Tomatoes can be roasted earlier in the day and kept at room temperature until serving. Balsamic dressing can be made several days ahead and stored in a closed jar in the refrigerator.