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What the Heck Is Arugula?

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What the Heck Is Arugula?

Arugula is a dark green leafy vegetable closely related to broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and other members of the Brassicaceae, or cruciferous, family. It is slightly bitter and spicy, with a flavor often described as “peppery” or “mustardy.” Baby arugula, which is picked when still young, is milder more tender than mature greens.

Also known as rocket, roquette, and eruca, arugula resembles dandelion greens, with an oak-like shape. It is native to the Mediterranean region, and has long been a staple of Italian and French cuisine. Arugula has increased in popularity in North America over the last few decades, and is now a commonly used salad green. Its tangy, spicy flavor makes it a desirable addition to standard mesclun mixes, bringing a little kick to the mix.

Like other dark, leafy cruciferous greens, arugula is incredibly nutritious. It is loaded with vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, K, folic acid, calcium, iron, manganese, copper, and potassium. It is also filled with helpful phytochemicals, which researchers have linked to a decreased risk of cancer.

Arugula is most commonly eaten raw, as a salad green or sandwich topping, but also works well sautéed, or added to soups, stews, pasta, or pizza.

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Try one of these recipes to enjoy this popular and peppy green today!

Arugula Potato Salad
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, cubed
3 tablespoons white vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 bunch arugula, shredded

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, and cool. Transfer to a large bowl. Meanwhile, mix vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Drizzle in olive oil, whisking until the mixture thickens. Toss potatoes with vinegar and oil mixture and arugula. Serve at room temperature.

Goat Cheese Penne with Arugula
5 1/2-oz. goat cheese
2 cups arugula, coarsely chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
8-oz. penne pasta

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Crumble goat cheese into a large serving bowl. Add arugula, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Drain pasta, and toss with goat cheese mixture.

Arugula, Pear, and Asiago Salad
3 tablespoons walnuts or pecans, coarsely-chopped
12 cups arugula
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt
Freshly-ground black pepper
4 pears, peeled, cored and sliced
6-oz. Asiago cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 500° F. Spread the walnuts or pecans on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown. Remove from oven, transfer onto a plate and allow to cool. In a large bowl, add arugula leaves and drizzle with olive oil to lightly coat. On individual salad plates, place the tossed arugula; season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange pear slices along the side of each serving plate and top with Asiago cheese and toasted walnuts or pecans. Top lightly with your favorite dressing and serve.

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1 comment

1 Chuck Bunch { 03.23.11 at 11:15 am }

We usually get our arugula in spring mixes and baby greens from the salad section of our market….

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