An easy dinner side salad that changes things up a bit with shaved Pecorino Romano, toasted pine nuts, and lemon juice.

Close up on colorful side salad in serving bowl.


A Simple Salad That Tastes a Little “Extra”

I’ve always found garden salads to be pretty dull. A jumble of chopped up crudités, lettuce, and a mundane dressing.

To be fair, a dinner side salad shouldn’t be complex—but does it have to be so bland? No. And that’s where this lemony mix comes in.

We’re not even using dressing here! Just straight up lemon juice massaged into your greens for a bright, tangy, and even flavor.

Easy Ingredients

Even though this salad isn’t your typical side salad, it’s a cinch to put together.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Mixed greens. I like to use a nice artisanal lettuce or arugula
  • Tomatoes. We definitely prefer small tomatoes, like grape or cherry tomatoes.
  • Shaved Pecorino Romano. Or shaved Parmesan.
  • Toasted pine nuts.  Feel free to swap toasted pine nuts for toasted walnuts, almonds, or pecans.
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice. Though sometimes we use Tessamae’s Organic Lemon Garlic Dressing in this one; it’s amazing.

Other additions worth considering:

  • Croutons
  • Thinly shaved red onion
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Sliced radishes
  • Microgreens

Head of green and purple artisan lettuce.

Recipe Tips + Tricks

  • Massage your greens! Because we’re just using lemon juice as a dressing, we like to push it right into those greens as much as possible for all-over flavor. You’ve probably heard of “massaged kale” before, and even though it sounds ridiculous and pretentious, the method serves a purpose. Massaging your greens tenderizes them. Most simply greens don’t need to be tenderized in the way that kale does, but with this salad, really rubbing the lemon juice into the greens promises bright and tangy flavors in every bite.
  • Shave that cheese. Thinly shaved shards of strong Pecorino Romano or Parmesan make for a delicious mouthful and that’s really all we have to say about that.
  • Toast your nuts. Sure, you could toss some untoasted nuts over this salad, but toasting the nuts creates a warm rich flavor that can’t miss. So although this step isn’t necessary, we encourage it.

Hand squeezing lemon juice over a bowl of chopped lettuce.

This Salad Pairs With Most Mains

Colorful salad in a serving bowl.

Let us know what you think!

If you plan on making this recipe, be sure to snap a pic and tag us on Insta! @killing__thyme.

Colorful salad in a serving bowl.

Easy Dinner Side Salad with Lemon Juice

An easy dinner side salad that changes things up a bit with shaved Pecorino Romano, toasted pine nuts, and lemon juice.
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Servings: 4
Author: Dana Sandonato


  • 5 oz greens (arugula, artisan lettuce, spring mix, etc.), washed and pat dry
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts You could also use walnuts, almonds, pecans, or hazelnuts.
  • 1/2 cup shaved fresh Pecorino Romano or Parmesan


  • Place the washed greens into a large serving bowl. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the greens and, with bare clean hands, gently rub the lemon juice into the leaves to evenly coat them all.
  • Top the greens with the halved tomatoes, toasted nuts, and shaved cheese. Give the salad a quick toss, and serve.


To toast the pine nuts (or any nuts, for that matter), heat a dry pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, bring the heat down to medium, and add the nuts to the pan. Toast them until they're golden in color and aromatic, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent burning, for about 5 minutes.