Food, Wine

Lighten Up Summer Dinners with Arugula Salad

When it comes to summer salads, thin is in. Shave vegetables into supple ribbons (think carpaccio), toss with fresh arugula and a lemony dressing, then harvest the compliments. This simple salad brings the farm to your plate. What a wholesome bowlful, with California almonds for healthy crunch and nuggets of creamy cheese. When nutritionists tell you to “eat your colors,” this is just what they mean.

arugula salad

Woo hoo! It’s summer, and that means summer vacation. Time to go places. With so many travel plans upended over the last couple of years, we all have a long bucket list. Why not set aside some time in the coming weeks for a wine country adventure? Celebrate a college grad or a super-cool dad with a long weekend of wine tasting and hiking or cycling.

Wherever you are in California, you’re not far from wine country. Choose your region and do your research (Discover California Wines can help) to find wineries that make the varieties you like and learn about special events during your visit. Many wineries have elevated experiences, which are more in-depth than their basic tastings (be sure to check if these opportunities must be booked ahead).

Even if it’s your first visit to Wine Country, pace yourself. Two winery visits a day is a smart plan, leaving you time for other activities and the all-important leisurely lunch.

winery garden


Beautifully maintained grounds have long been part of the winery visitor experience, but at some California wineries, that landscape is edible. Sustainably grown vegetable gardens and fruit trees play a big role at some properties, providing just-picked produce for tasting plates or VIP lunches and dinners.

Some wineries, like Trefethen Vineyards, offer most of the harvest to employees, a much-appreciated perk. If you enjoy vegetable gardening yourself, plan a visit to Alexander Valley Vineyards, Cakebread Cellars,Justin Vineyards & Winery, Kendall-Jackson or one of the many others with inspiring edible landscapes.

The Pour

Sauvignon Blanc is one of the Golden State’s most popular white wines, neck-and-neck with Pinot Gris in acres planted. Vintners like to put their own stamp on it. Some keep it lean by fermenting and aging it in stainless steel, showcasing the variety’s citrus and herbal aromas. Others prefer a rounder, richer style, so they’ll blend it with Sémillon or give the wine some time in oak barrels. Either way, Sauvignon Blanc tends to be less voluptuous than Chardonnay, and therefore more salad friendly. Sonoma and Napa lead the way in acreage, in that order, but Lake County is coming on strong.

Arugula Salad with Zucchini, Carrots and Toasted Almonds

Save this fresh, colorful salad for early summer, when markets have small, tender zucchini. For the best results, look for zucchini that are no more than 6 inches (15 cm) long, and choose straight ones that will be easy to shave into ribbons. You can shave the zucchini with a vegetable peeler, but a mandoline or V-slicer makes the job easier. Pair with California Sauvignon Blanc or California rosé.

Arugula Salad with Zucchini, Carrots and Toasted Almonds


  • 1/3 cup (30 g) sliced almonds  
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) white wine vinegar, or more as needed 
  • 1 clove garlic, grated or finely minced 
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 4 small zucchini, preferably 2 green and 2 yellow, about ¾ pound (350 g) 
  • 2 small carrots, peeled 
  • 2 large handfuls arugula (2 to 3 ounces/60 to 90 g) 
  • Chunk of semi-firm pecorino cheese or crumbled cotija cheese (you’ll use about 3 ounces/90 g total)



  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (190°C). Toast the almonds on a baking sheet until lightly colored and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Let cool. 
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, wine vinegar, garlic and salt and pepper to taste.  
  • Remove both ends of the zucchini and carrots. With a V-slicer, mandolin or vegetable peeler, shave the vegetables lengthwise into thin ribbons. Discard the first and last slices of zucchini, which are mostly skin. Add the vegetables to the bowl and toss well to coat with the dressing. Let stand until the vegetables soften slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. The zucchini should be pliable enough to twirl with a fork without breaking. Do not let them stand too long or they will release liquid and water down the dressing.  
  • Add the arugula and toss gently. With a cheese plane or vegetable peeler, shave about 3 ounces (90 g) of semi-firm percorino cheese, or crumble cotija cheese into the salad. Add the almonds and toss gently. Taste for salt and vinegar, then serve immediately. 

Recommended Pairings

California Sauvignon Blanc or California Rosé

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