We’re hearing from our recipe testers that this steak and arugula salad drew raves from all manner of satiated folks, including those picky eaters who are typically meat-and-potatoes types. And you may want to go ahead and double that pesto vinaigrette as you’re going to want to dribble and drizzle it on just about everything.–Renee Schettler Rossi

A steak and arugula salad with pesto vinaigrette in a white bowl, with a wooden board and sliced steak next to it.

Steak and Arugula Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette

5 / 2 votes
This steak and arugula salad with pesto vinaigrette is an easy meal of peppery greens, pan-seared strip, shaved Parmesan, and a pesto dressing, that’s quick enough for a weeknight, yet special enough for guests.
David Leite
Servings2 to 3 servings
Calories902 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time25 minutes


For the steak

  • One (1 1/2-to 2-inch-thick) strip steak (about 1 lb | 454 g)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the pesto vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon store-bought or homemade pesto
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

To serve

  • 4 cups (4 oz) baby arugula
  • One (2 inch) chunk of Parmesan (2 oz | 57 g)


Prepare the steak

  • Pat the steak dry with paper towels. Brush both sides lightly with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt.
  • Place a heavy, preferably cast iron, skillet over high heat until very hot. Place the steak in the dry skillet and cook for 2 minutes. Flip the steak and cook for 2 minutes more.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and cook to your preferred doneness, about 5 minutes for medium-rare or 8 minutes for medium well.
  • Transfer the steak to a cutting board to rest for at least 5 minutes.

Make the pesto vinaigrette

  • While the steak rests, in small jar with a lid or a small bowl with a whisk, combine the oil, lemon juice, pesto, Dijon, and salt and shake or whisk well.

Serve the steak and arugula salad

  • Divvy the arugula among 2 or 3 plates.
  • Thinly slice the steak and arrange it atop the arugula. Using a vegetable peeler or knife, shave the Parmesan over the steak and arugula. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and serve immediately.

Adapted From

Dinner, Uncomplicated

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 902 kcalCarbohydrates: 4 gProtein: 58 gFat: 72 gSaturated Fat: 23 gMonounsaturated Fat: 37 gCholesterol: 201 mgSodium: 1251 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 2 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2020 Claire Tansey. Photo © 2020 Suech and Beck. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This dish is really, really excellent! We couldn’t stop talking about how great dinner was last night and my husband wants to have it again next week—and he’s not even a pesto fan!

I used the largest NY strip steak I could get at the grocery store and it weighed 14 1/2 oz and was about 1 3/4 inches thick. Perfect size for the two of us to share. I did trim the thick fat cap from the side so it wouldn’t smoke as much in the skillet. I heated the skillet over high heat for almost 5 minutes to make sure it was ripping hot and added the oiled and salted steak to the skillet and cooked it as directed for 2 minutes on each side on high and 5 additional minutes on medium heat for a perfect medium-rare. The timings were all very accurate. I got a wonderful sear on both sides of the steak and it never stuck to the pan.

While the steak rested on a cutting board, I made the true star of this dish, the pesto vinaigrette! I’m having a problem coming up with the right words to describe it. Just WOW!!! It was so good I now want to put it on everything! I used a purchased organic Genovese pesto and that, combined with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon, and salt, created such a wonderfully flavorful and fresh-tasting vinaigrette. Instead of shaking the vinaigrette in a jar, I simply whisked it in a 2-cup measuring cup and it came together nicely.

Every step of this dinner was quick and easy and the assembled dish looked exactly like the photo. After thinly slicing the steak, I mounded baby arugula (about 2.1 oz) on 2 plates and sprinkled some shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano over it. I drizzled a little of the pesto vinaigrette over the salad. Then I layered on the steak slices, more Parmesan shavings, and another drizzle of the vinaigrette. I only had about a tablespoon of the vinaigrette leftover. The vinaigrette melded all the flavors of this dish so perfectly!

I served this steak salad with halved oven-browned baby potatoes to round out this dinner. I started the potatoes earlier, but making the steak salad took all of about 22 minutes total! This steak and arugula salad is a KEEPER for any time of year!

Meaty, juicy beefiness perfectly complemented and enhanced by the slightly peppery flavor of the arugula. Thoroughly enjoyed as a breezy summer evening dinner meant to be enjoyed with a glass of California Cabernet. The meat was perfectly seared on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. The pesto Genovese was out of this world and the perfect complement to the meat, and the Parmesan cheese lent itself nicely to the olive oil and garlic and the saltiness of the cheese. I topped the salad off with some fresh cracked black pepper and some pita chips.

I tried the pesto recipe on the site and it is most awesome. I used all the pesto in the salad and there was none leftover except what was at the bottom of the bowl at the end, which my husband and I soaked up with some pieces of Italian bread.

This recipe has many of the wonderful tastes of summer: fresh basil in the pesto sauce, peppery baby arugula, and fresh lemon juice. Combine this with a tasty steak and you have the perfect summer meal.

I’m always looking for interesting salad dressings. The vinaigrette made with pesto is wonderful and would be great on other salad combinations but is particularly good with arugula. I put a small puddle of the vinaigrette on my plate to dip my steak into. It was so good. The Parmesan cheese added one more delicious flavor that somehow brought everything together.

Because of the pandemic, my butcher did not have the tender strip loin steak that this recipe calls for. I substituted a top round steak which is not nearly as tender. I marinated it in olive oil, lemon juice, and salt for a few hours to help to tenderize it. It worked beautifully.

I’ve always considered steak to be a once-a-year luxury accompanied with a lush steak sauce alongside some creamed spinach and a pile of potatoes. That being said, this is such an easy, accessible salad that I’m considering upping my red meat intake for this healthyish indulgence.

A word to the wise, though: Learn from my lapse of judgment and do NOT try to defrost a cold Mason jar full of pesto underneath warm water. The jar will crack.

I love steak salads and, until this recipe, had not been able to find one that works well at home. It’s deceptively simple and delivers a party in your mouth. It’s similar to the little black frock which can be dressed up or down as necessary. Easy to prepare, it could relieve the doldrums of weeknight cooking or make an entrance as the star of a dinner party. It provides a sultry entree for summer nights when prolonged cooking is not an ideal.

This recipe will fare equally well in hands of the seasoned kitchen wonk or a less experienced one. It’s perfect for someone like my daughter, a reluctant cook, who does not share my obsession with the kitchen. Adulting has forced her to learn to do some cooking but she is always concerned about poisoning herself and others. This recipe is clear and concise and unambiguous. It will result in a tasty meal and no post-meal frantic calls to poison control.

My husband loved this recipe and left not a morsel behind. All of the tastes blend together elegantly with no one flavor overpowering the rest of the cast. I would double the quantity of the dressing because in this case, more is definitely better. We polished off all of the dressing in one sitting. Nary a drop was left. We used every bit and would have licked the inside of the jar if possible. I think the vinaigrette recipe should be doubled. It is so tasty, I will make again for other uses.

The dressing is the it factor in this recipe. I will definitely make again. It is a creative spin on steak and salad. I served it with a nice rose and a loaf of homemade crusty sourdough wheat bread.

I would like to experiment and add some cherry tomatoes and perhaps some nuts the next time I make it. Additionally, if baby arugula isn’t available, it will work just as well with the fully grown arugula.

I made the pesto recipe from the site and it was worth the effort. I have made pesto using a mortar and pestle and also food processor on multiple occasions. I used a mortar and pestle to prepare it because I prefer a chunky and dense pesto. If you don’t have time to pound away at the ingredients with the pestle, using the food processor would still provide an excellent result. For those who do not have the desire to make their own pesto, they should be able to use a good commercial pesto for the dressing.

A grid of images representing the components of a steak and arugula salad with pesto vinaigrette.

Loved the simplicity of this dish—hardly any ingredients so it’s easy to pull together even on a weeknight yet it feels special. Spicy arugula is lovely with pesto and shaved Parmesan and makes for a light, bright accompaniment to the steak. Perfect for a simple dinner or even to serve to guests.

Good pick if you want a flavorful, unfussy entrée salad that you can whip up quickly. I made the Leite’s Genovese pesto (in my mini food processor), which was delicious on its own. After making a dressing out of it as instructed, I ended up dabbing on just a little on top of the finished salad (also happy to have some leftover for a small dish of pasta). The steak came out tender, juicy, and flavorful.

My main complaint is that while I felt the steak was enough for 4 servings, the amount of arugula only enough for 2 servings if you are doing an entrée salad. I ended up doubling the amount of arugula in order to stretch this for 4 servings and had plenty of dressing in order to do so.

I chose this recipe because of its similarity to our loved beef carpaccio salad. It did not disappoint! Each salad has their place at the table. While the carpaccio makes for a lovely appetizer, this one was a proper main course for two. I cooked my steak to 130°F which, with resting, created our preferred temperature. The beefy aura combined with the peppery arugula, Parmesan umami, and the fruity vinaigrette stood up beautifully to a glass of Barolo. This one will be a “frequent flyer” this summer!

In 30 minutes (using previously made pesto) you can be strewing Parmesan shards onto your plate and clinking glasses!

On the topic of Parmesan, have you ever tried using a vegetable peeler on a 5cm chunk of anything? To avoid adding extra protein (digit tips, etc.) to this lovely creation, I cut the said chunk of Parmesan. It weighed 90 gm. I then shaved 90 grams worth from my larger chunk of cheese and took a bow…

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I have made this twice now for my family and it gets major points for being super quick to make and big on flavour. The second time I made it, I didn’t have arugula but used butter lettuce instead and it was still really tasty. It’s also low carb. A perfect weeknight meal I will keep in rotation.

    1. Thank you Lene! We’re so pleased that this is a huge hit and part of your weekly repertoire.

  2. 5 stars
    This salad was delicious. I used a spinach pesto recipe from this site to include in my dressing and it turned out to be a delightfully tangy addition to the salad. The steak was juicy and tender. It’s always nice to look down at a colorful plate and this recipe made for a lovely plate.

    1. I’m delighted that you enjoyed this, April, and that is indeed a great-looking salad. This recipe is one of my favorites, too.