Also called rocket, arugula is a peppery, nutty-tasting member of the mustard family, whose blossoms and leaves have long been a popular ingredient in the cuisines of Italy, Morocco, Portugal, and Turkey. Widely available year-round, this versatile leafy green can be served raw, but is just as often used in cooked dishes. We love it ground into pesto, tossed with lemon and shaved parmesan as a pizza topping, or simply sautéed with garlic and olive oil. Like most salad greens, Arugula is very low in calories and is high in vitamins A and C.
In Roman times Arugula was grown for both it's leaves and the seed. The seed was used for flavoring oils. On another interesting note, Rocket or Arugula seed has been used as an ingredient in aphrodisiac concoctions dating back to the first century, AD. (Cambridge World History of Food).
Part of a typical Roman meal was to offer a salad of greens, frequently Arugula ( spelled Arugola), romaine, chicory, mallow and lavender and seasoned with a "cheese sauce for lettuce"
Rinse the leaves in cool water and dry on paper toweling. Wrap leaves tightly in plastic or a zip lock bag. Best if used within two days.
Spring Greens Pesto
makes about 2 cups
- 1/2 cup broken up dried mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 lb or so greens in season (spinach, arugula, kale, chard)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup lightly toasted nuts (pine nuts, almonds or walnuts)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1/2 lemon
Reconstitute the mushrooms in a small bowl or cup with just enough boiling water to cover. Set aside to cool in the water.
In a pan large enough to hold the greens, heat the oil and sauté the garlic briefly, then add the greens. If you are using a mix of greens, add the tougher ones (like kale and collards) before the tender ones, like spinach. Cook until wilted. The time on this can range widely: for only kale, it may take many minutes, while spinach alone will only take a few seconds. If the greens start to stick, add a splash of water.
Scrape the cooked greens into the blender and combine with the mushrooms and their juices, Parmesan, toasted nuts, salt and pepper, and finally, a squirt of lemon juice. If your blender has variable speeds, start slowly and increase gradually. Pur´e until silky smooth.
Serve over cooked pasta, with meat or fish, on crackers or toasted baguette as an hors d'oeuvre, or as a spread on sandwiches.
Will keep, its surface in direct contact with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for one week.
Arugula, Avocado and Radish Salad with Poached Egg
- 3 handfuls arugula
- 2 small radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 avocado, sliced - at least. You can use more if you’d like, I won’t judge.
- 1 1/2 tablespoon crumbled feta
- 1 large egg
- 1 splash white vinegar
- salt and pepper
- Fill a small pot – or a small but deep frying pan – with a couple inches of water. Cover and bring the water to a boil.
- While the water is coming to a boil, toss the arugula and radishes with the lemon juice, olive oil, and a sprinkling of salt. Put in a wide, shallow bowl or on a plate. Sprinkle with the feta, and layer on the avocado slices. Sprinkle the avocado with another little pinch of salt.
- Gently crack the egg into a teacup or ramekin. When the water comes to a boil, add the splash of vinegar, remove the pot from the heat, and gently slide the egg into the water. Cover the pot and let it sit (still off the heat) for 4 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to gently remove the egg from the water, let it drain, then place it on top of the salad. Sprinkle the egg with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. (If you don’t feel coordinated enough to poach an egg in the morning, a fried egg works well on the salad as well.)
- Dig in! I like to break my egg into lots of little pieces and stir it up with the rest of the salad, but really you can eat it however you wish. It’s not a bad idea to have a piece of bread to mop up any egg yolk mixed with salad dressing that is leftover on the plate, but it’s not a requirement.
Sauteed Shrimp with Arugula & Tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 4 ounces wild or baby arugula (4 cups)
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring often, until they blister, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add shrimp and cook, stirring often, until almost opaque throughout, about 4 minutes. Add arugula, season with salt and pepper, and toss until wilted, 1 minute. Add lemon juice and toss to combine.
Serve alongside pasta or rice for a complete and delicious meal.