Arugula is a leafy green packs a peppery punch! Here’s more about this ingredient and how to use it in recipes.
Here’s a leafy green that’s all the rage these days: arugula! This peppery, subtly bitter green is popular in restaurants in fancy salads and as a fresh, crunchy topping for pizzas. But this ingredient isn’t new: it’s been around since ancient Rome! Don’t jump on the arugula train just because it’s trendy: this tasty vegetable is here to stay. Here’s more about it: what to look for when buying this leafy green and all the best ways to use it in recipes.
What is arugula?
Arugula, also known as rocket or rucola, is a peppery, delicate leafy green. It might seem trendy today, but this ingredient dates back to ancient Rome, originally believed to be an aphrodisiac. Arugula has a bold, peppery flavor with a mildly bitter finish. It’s a cruciferous vegetable that’s in the same plant family as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale.
Arugula is popular in green salads, but it’s incredibly versatile. Add it to pastas or omelets, toss it into soups or potato salads, or make it into pesto. In Northern India, arugula seeds are even pressed to make into a cooking oil. There’s nothing this tasty green can’t do!
Buying and storing arugula
What to look for when you’re buying arugula at the store? Here’s what to know:
- Choose perky leaves with a vibrant green color. Avoid arugula with wilted, slimy, yellowing or browned leaves.
- Look for baby arugula versus mature arugula (sold in bunches). Baby arugula has a delicate, feathery texture and a milder flavor than the more mature version, which has thick stems and is sold in bunches. Mature arugula can be very spicy and has a thicker, leafier texture. But if it’s all you can find, go for it! Just keep in mind it will have a stronger flavor.
- Store in an airtight container, plastic bag or in plastic wrap in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. It should stay good for up to 1 week.
Arugula is a nutritious leafy green, though interestingly it’s not as nutrient-dense as related leafy greens like spinach or watercress. For example, in this CDC study ranking powerhouse fruits and vegetables on a scale of 1 to 100, watercress was most nutrient-dense with a score of 100, spinach scored 86, and arugula ranked in at 37. Of course, it’s still a healthy food that’s part of a nutritious diet! Here’s an outline of arugula nutrition:
- It’s very low in calories. One cup has only 5 calories (source).
- It’s high in Vitamin K. One cup has 27% of your daily Vitamin K.
- It also contains calcium. One cup has 3.2% of your daily calcium.
Arugula is extremely versatile: it’s not just for salads! But it’s feathery, delicate texture is ideal for green salads. Whiz it up into pesto, use it as a pizza topping, or stuff handfuls into sandwiches and quesadillas. The sky’s the limit! Here are some ideas for arugula recipes.
More quick guides
Mystified by an ingredient, or want to learn more about flavor secrets? Here are a few more quick guides to peruse:
This arugula apple salad is simple but a symphony of flavor! Apples, pecans and balsamic dressing make perfection on a plate.
- In a medium bowl, make the dressing.
- Thinly slice the apple and shallot.
- Place the greens on a plate. Top with the sliced shallot, apple, pecans, and crumbles of soft goat cheese. Drizzle with dressing and top with a sprinkle of sea salt.
*Standard arugula has much too spicy of a flavor; look for the small baby arugula leaves like you see in the photo. It comes packaged in the produce section near the greens, or may be available at your local farmer’s market.
- Category: Salad
- Method: No cook
- Cuisine: Salad
- Diet: Vegetarian