Bresaola, Rughetta e Parmigiano (Bresaola with Arugula and Parmesan Cheese)

Bresaola is air-dried, salted beef that has been aged two or three months until it becomes hard and turns a dark red, almost purple color. It is made from top round cut of beef, and is lean and tender, with a sweet, musty smell.

It originated in the Alps of northern Italy’s Lombardy region. And unlike prosciutto which is made of pork, bresaola is almost completely lean, with very little fat running thru it. It’s perfect when sliced paper thin and has an interesting crystalline mouth feel. It is an expensive product but because you slice it paper thin to serve, a little goes a long way.

This appetizer salad is the perfect start to a meal. Serve it with a light bodied red wine and you are off to a great start for a multi-course meal. And while I am personally opposed to the use of a salad spinner (we did get along for thousands of years without one), it’s use here to dry to arugula works pretty well if you are picking from your garden or buying it unwashed.

This recipe serves 4 people as an appetizer.

Ingredients and equipment:

  • A bag of trimmed and washed arugula or the equivalent amount purchased washed. (For the later, wash and spin dry in a salad spinner). See the above picture for approximately how much prepared arugula to put on each plate.
  • Bresaola – 24 thinly sliced pieces (6 slices per plate)
  • High quality extra virgin oil olive
  • One-half of a lemon
  • A wedge of Parmesan-Reggiano cheese, at near room temperature
  • Freshly ground black pepper and salt

Special equipment:

  • A vegetable peeler


  1. Place the plates on which you plan to serve the salad in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before serving.
  2. Remove the plates from the refrigerator. Lay out the bresaola in an overlapping pattern on each plate as shown in the above photo.
  3. Mix the cleaned arugula in a bowl with a sparing amount of olive oil and then sprinkle in some salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix gently again. (Arugula can be easily bruised if mixed to hard so go easy.)
  4. Pile a mound of the dressed arugula on each plate prepared with the bresaola.
  5. Squeeze a dozen or so drops of lemon juice from the halved lemon over the arugula on each plate.
  6. Using a vegetable peeler, peel off curls of Parmesan-Reggiano cheese over the salad as shown. (To do this, hold the block of cheese as you would a carrot you are about to peel and draw the vegetable peeler over the cheese towards you. The trick here is to not dig to deeply into the cheese. This will also go easier if the cheese is at near room temperature.)

Join the Conversation

  1. what a beautiful, light and utterly delicious sounding salad.

  2. I was fortunate enough to have tasted this wonderful salad at Joe’s dinner table. It was delicious! I immediately planted some arugula seeds so I can have my own fresh bresaola-arugula salad someday soon.

  3. Janna Lea Smith says:

    We had a similar salad in Jackson Hole, Wy this summer! We belong to a wine dinner group and its our turn to make salad before the entree of veal Marsala! So I am making this! I will let you know how the group likes it! I am serving it with a Rosé of Pinot from the Ousterhout Winery in the Russian River Valley of California!

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