Monday, June 18, 2012

All About Arugula

All About Arugula

Also known as rocket, rucola, or roquette, this peppery green has been cultivated in the Mediterranean for thousands of years. With high levels of potassium and vitamins A and C, arugula is a nutritional powerhouse. It makes more of a punch, flavor-wise, than most other leafy greens, which lends itself nicely to a variety of dishes. Click through to check out just some of the ways to use arugula, and see below for some basics on this tasty green.

Shopping Tips

The best arugula is uniformly dark green, with no yellowing or wilted leaves.

Cleaning Tips

Odds are, you may notice a little dirt or grime on your arugula. That’s fine, though, because doesn’t say much about the quality of the product. If you’ve purchased loose leaves, cut off the stems and rinse the leaves in a bowl under cool running water. If your arugula is in a bunch, place it in a bowl of cool water for about 10-15 minutes. Drain leaves in a colander, and rinse.

Storage Tips

Wrap cleaned leaves in a paper towel and place in a plastic zipper storage bag. They should stay fresh for about a week; unwashed arugula only keeps for a few days.

Size Matters

All arugula is not created equal. Smaller, younger leaves have a milder flavor, whereas larger, older leaves pack more of a punch. Get to know the difference when choosing leaves for a recipe — you’ll likely find that you prefer one flavor over another. I, for instance, prefer the younger leaves in pesto and salads, but would pick older leaves for pizza or soup any day of the week.

Arugula & Pesto Crostini

Arugula and pesto are a great base for a fantastic crostini. The key here is to experiment: check out some ideas for add-ons below!


  • 1 baguette
  • 2-3 tbs. pesto
  • About 2 cups fresh arugula
  • Olive oil

Optional Add-Ons:
- Fresh mozzarella, ricotta or blue cheese
- Tomato slices
- Sautéed mushrooms
- Green peas

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut baguette into about 1/2″ thick slices, and lightly brush with olive oil. Bake for about 8 minutes.
2. After slices have cooled, brush with pesto, top with arugula and any other desired toppings

Broccoli Arugula Soup

You know when you’ve been out of town for a while and you can’t remember the last time you ate real, wholesome food? This soup is the perfect remedy for that. As good hot as it is cold, this gluten-free and vegan soup is sure to delight and refresh.


  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 head broccoli, cut in small florets
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup arugula
  • Coarse salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme (optional)
  • Lemon slices for serving

1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for another minute or so. Add broccoli and cook until it is bright green, about 4 minutes. Add water, salt and pepper, and thyme to taste. Bring to boil, then cover and lower heat. Cook until broccoli is tender, around 8 minutes.

2. Carefully** pour soup into blender and add arugula, blending until smooth. Serve with lemon slices.

** If the idea of blending a hot liquid in the blender makes you nervous, you can blend in batches of 2, 3 or 4, and set aside the blended soup in large saucepan over low heat. You can also, if you wish, let the soup cool for 5-10 minutes before blending and warm on the stovetop afterwards

Other Great Ways to Use Arugula:

3. As a pizza topping! Make sure to put in on after the pizza has baked.

4. Use it in a pesto. It’s a fantastic (and healthy!) pasta topping, for example. You can also use it as a tasty condiment for a sandwich. Check out the recipe here.

5. As a punchy alternative to regular lettuce in sandwiches.

6. Ditch the bottle! Check out this fantastic recipe for homemade arugula salad dressing.

7. Want to consume your arugula in drinkable form? Look know further than this recipe for an arugula gimlet

Many of us are chomping at the bit for basil season — I know I am! I can’t wait to get my fill of caprese salads, bruschetta, pastas, and anything and everything topped with fresh, homemade pesto. But, in the meantime, let’s spare ourselves the agony of counting the days until we have more basil than we know what to do with. Rather, make some pesto with a leafy green that’s actually in season. This recipe for arugula pesto will definitely knock your socks off!

You can certainly follow your favorite basil pesto recipe and substitute arugula for the basil. However, I found that, in the arugula pesto, I didn’t need as much garlic and pepper as I would use for basil pesto. Moreover, a spritz of lemon juice will nicely mask any unappealing grassy taste.

Arugula Pesto


  • 4 cups packed arugula (baby arugula is best here!)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan (optional)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lemon juice to taste

1. Place arugula, pine nuts, garlic and parmesan in a food processor. Blend until nearly smooth, adding the olive oil in gradually while it’s running.
2. Serve within a day at room temperature


Perhaps the most popular way to enjoy arugula is in a salad; it is a leafy green, after all! That doesn’t mean, though, that an arugula salad has to be boring. No, not by any means. Check out a fantastic variety of arugula salad recipes:

Balsamic Strawberries & Arugula

3 cups strawberries, quartered
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar & more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups arugula
Salt to taste
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1. In a large bowl, toss berries with vinegar and pepper. Set aside for about 10 minutes.
2. Add arugula to strawberries and sprinkle salt over the bowl. Toss. Drizzle olive oil over berries and arugula and gently toss again. Serve.

What barbecue is complete without a big bowl of fresh watermelon slices? This, though, can be both a blessing and a curse — with a summer stuffed full of outdoor grilling, the ubiquitous treat can get a little tired. So, instead of just cutting up a watermelon and calling it a day, why not put a new spin on it? Check out this fantastic recipe for watermelon and arugula salad — it’ll be a perfect addition to your Memorial Day weekend festivities!

Watermelon and Arugula Salad


5 cups arugula, packed
8 cups watermelon, cubed
1 1/3 cups feta cheese
1 tbs fresh mint, chopped
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Whisk oil and vinegar in a small bowl. Place arugula, watermelon and feta in a large bowl, and drizzle vinegar and oil mixture and chopped mint over it. Toss.

2. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes before serving.

I love simple flavors, but I also adore an explosion. This jumble of sweet, salty, spicy, and nutty in a tangle of peppery greens leaves me swooning. We may not be inventing the wheel here—the fruit/nuts/cheese salad has been around for a while—but this arugula salad with pears, gorgonzola, spicy caramelized walnuts and maple-Dijon vinaigrette has a few twists (like cayenne and maple) that make it stand out from the crowd.

Sweet and Spicy Autumn Salad

For the Dressing
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

For the Walnuts
1 cup walnuts
Splash of olive oil
1 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon maple sugar (or
sweetener of your choice)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Generous pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste

For the Salad
10 cups loosely packed arugula
2 pears, peeled and thinly sliced
3 ounces gorgonzola

1. Combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake until combined.
2. Preheat oven to 325 F.
3. Wipe a baking sheet with olive oil.
4. Combine walnuts and remaining walnut ingredients in a bowl and mix to coat.
5. Spread nut mixture on prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until nuts are deep golden and bubbling, stirring occasionally.
6. Add arugula, pears, gorgonzola and walnuts to large bowl and toss with some dressing. The dressing is strong so a little goes a long way.

Serves 4 to 6.

This salad makes a good meatless main dish or a great side to accompany a mezze of yummy things like hummus, quinoa, cucumber-yogurt salad, and pickled beets. Enjoy!

Warm Spiced Chickpea Salad with Arugula
Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main dish


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • Dash of red pepper flakes
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked or drained canned chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 4 cups arugula leaves
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 hard-cooked eggs, quartered


1. Put the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the ginger, garlic, onions, red pepper flakes, and cumin seeds and cook, stirring constantly, until the ginger and garlic are fragrant and the onion is soft, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then stir in the chickpeas until hot and coated in the oil and seasonings, about 3 minutes more.
2. Remove from heat and with a fork, stir in the vinegar, honey, and 1 tablespoon water. Mash a few of the chickpeas as you stir to add texture to the dressing. Put the arugula and red onion in a large bowl and toss with the warm chickpea dressing. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately, garnished with hard-cooked eggs.

Grilled Peaches, Bitter Greens, and Goat Cheese Salad

60g/1/2 cup pecans
4 firm, ripe freestone peaches, halved and pitted
45ml/2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
15ml/1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
85g/3 ounces arugula, large stems discarded
One head frisée, torn into bite-size pieces (4 cups)
85g/3 ounces Cabrales cheese (or goat cheese), crumbled (1 cup)
1. Light a grill. Put the pecans on a sheet of aluminum foil and fold into a small pouch. Place on the grill and toast for 7 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Transfer the pecans to a plate and let cool, then coarsely chop.
2. In a medium bowl, toss the peaches with 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the peaches over a medium-high fire until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the peaches to a work surface and cut each half in half.
3. In a medium bowl, mix the vinegar with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the arugula and frisée and toss well. Transfer the salad to a platter and scatter the blue cheese and toasted pecans on top. Arrange the peaches around the salad and serve.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Grilling time: 20 minutes

Green Advice: Most of these ingredients can be purchased from local organic farms can also provide fruit from the closest possible sources.

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