Lemon Parmesan Salad is fresh, crunchy and loaded with flavor! Romaine lettuce is tossed with salty Parmesan cheese, buttery toasted pine nuts, and a tangy lemon vinaigrette.
This versatile green salad is easy enough for a busy weeknight and perfect for a special occasion or holiday meal.
This yummy Lemon Parmesan Salad has been my go-to side salad for several months now. It’s perfect for serving with ALL things Italian or anytime you need a super easy, super fast side dish on your menu. It takes less than 15 minutes to put together and that includes shaking up the fresh lemon dressing.
Are you sold? I hope so!
I have to admit I was inspired by the viral video of a Lemon Parmesan Salad on Tik Tok and Instagram. I’ve taken a few liberties (as I tend to do) by adding toasted pine nuts and some simple ingredients to the lemon dressing that I think make it so much better.
The ingredient list is short but when you’re using high quality, powerfully flavored ingredients, it doesn’t need to be long.
Ingredients in Lemon Parmesan Salad
For the Romaine Salad
- Romaine lettuce – I make this salad with a head of romaine lettuce for a little color contrast from both the dark green and lighter green leaves. But, I’ve also used a couple of romaine hearts which are lighter in color and crunchier.
- Parmesan cheese – You want to use freshly shredded Parmesan cheese for this recipe. With so few ingredients, you want to be sure you use the best!
- Pine nuts – The flavor and buttery texture of toasted pine nuts works really well in this salad. But, they are pricey so I wouldn’t hesitate to substitute sliced almonds.
For the Lemon Vinaigrette
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- White wine vinegar – White wine vinegar has a mildly acidic, slightly fruity flavor with plenty of tang that makes it perfect for this recipe. Don’t be tempted to substitute distilled white vinegar which has a harsh, acidic flavor that doesn’t work well in salad dressing.
- Lemon zest and juice – I always use a Meyer lemon for salad dressings when I can get them.
- Sugar – Just a small amount of sugar for a touch of sweetness to offset the acid in the vinegar.
- Dijon mustard – Adding a little Dijon to salad dressings adds a flavor boost and a little body.
Before assembling the salad, toast the pine nuts in a small skillet over low heat for a minute or two, just until fragrant and lightly toasted. Shake the pan while they toast to prevent them from burning. Let them cool while you assemble the salad.
How to Make Lemon Parmesan Salad
- Make the Lemon Vinaigrette – Add the ingredients to a small mason jar or other airtight container. Close the lid and shake vigorously to combine and slightly thicken the dressing.
- Toss – Add the chopped romaine to a serving bowl. Pour about ¾ of the salad dressing over the top and toss to combine.
- Season and finish – Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and sprinkle with all but 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan and toss again until well combined. Drizzle with the reserved lemon dressing, if you think it needs it. Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts and reserved Parmesan over the top and serve.
You can prep the ingredients and make the lemon vinaigrette in advance, cover, and refrigerate everything for several hours. When ready to serve, assemble and toss the salad. Once the salad is tossed with the dressing, it should be served immediately.
This is a great salad to serve on a busy weeknight but it’s also perfect for a buffet or potluck any time of year. You can serve it for brunch, lunch, or dinner.
- Pasta – Any and all pasta dishes like Pasta Bolognese, One Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs, or Skillet Lasagna. Or, toss any cooked pasta you love with Easy Homemade Spaghetti Sauce or Easy Tomato Cream Sauce for a super fast and easy dinner.
- Chicken – This is the perfect salad to serve with Baked Chicken Pesto Parmesan, Broccoli Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast., or simply prepared Air Fryer Chicken Breast.
- Beef and Pork – I love this salad with Simply Grilled Steak, Grilled Pork Tenderloin and even Classic Beef Burgers!
- Seafood – Mahi Mahi with Lemon Butter Sauce and Baked Salmon in Foil.
- Main Dish Salad – Add grilled chicken or shrimp to make this salad a meal.
Lemon Parmesan Salad
For the Lemon Vinaigrette
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced (Meyer lemons work really well)
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
For the Salad
- 6 cups well chopped romaine, from 1 head romaine or 2 romaine hearts
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
- 2 to 3 tablespoons pine nuts, optional (can substitute sliced almonds)
- Add the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon zest, Dijon, and sugar to a small mason jar or other airtight container. Close the lid and shake vigorously to combine and slightly thicken the dressing. Set aside.
- Add the pine nuts to a small skillet and place over LOW heat. Cook, shaking the pan, for a minute or two, or just until fragrant and lightly toasted. Set aside to cool completely.
- Add the chopped romaine to a serving bowl. Pour about ¾ of the dressing over the top and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with all but 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan and toss again until well combined. Drizzle with the additional dressing if you think it needs it. Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts and reserved Parmesan over the top and serve.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.