Arugula, also known as rocket or rucola, is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Brassicaceae family. It is native to the Mediterranean region but is now cultivated and enjoyed in various parts of the world.
Arugula has distinctive elongated leaves with a jagged or lobed shape. The leaves are dark green in colour and have a slightly peppery and nutty flavour. The taste can vary, with some varieties being more spicy or peppery than others.
Arugula is commonly used as a salad green and is often mixed with other lettuce or salad ingredients. Its robust flavor adds a peppery bite to salads, providing a nice contrast to milder ingredients. It can also be used as a garnish for pizzas, sandwiches, pasta dishes, and soups.
What is Arugula?
Arugula, also known as rocket or rucola, is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Brassicaceae family. It is native to the Mediterranean region but is now widely cultivated and consumed in various parts of the world.
Arugula has distinctive elongated leaves with a deep green color and a slightly peppery or spicy flavor. The taste can vary from mild to more pronounced, depending on the variety and growing conditions. Generally, younger leaves tend to have a milder flavor, while more mature leaves can be more pungent.
Arugula is often used in salads and as a garnish due to its unique flavor. It pairs well with a variety of ingredients, including cheeses, nuts, fruits, and vinaigrettes. It is also commonly added to sandwiches, wraps, pizzas, and pasta dishes, both as a topping and as an ingredient in pesto sauces.
What Does Arugula Taste Like?
Arugula has a distinct flavor that is often described as peppery, tangy, and slightly bitter. The taste can vary depending on the variety and growing conditions, but it generally has a bold and unique flavor profile. When you bite into its leaves, you may experience a noticeable peppery or spicy kick, similar to the taste of mustard greens or radishes. This peppery flavor is more pronounced in mature leaves compared to younger ones.
In addition to the peppery notes, it can have a slight bitterness that adds depth to its taste. This bitterness is generally milder compared to other bitter greens like kale or dandelion greens. Arugula’s tanginess also contributes to its overall flavor. It has a subtle citrus-like tang that provides a refreshing and bright element to dishes.
Overall, arugula’s taste is a combination of peppery, tangy, and slightly bitter flavors, creating a distinct and vibrant profile. Some people enjoy its bold flavor, while others may find it too intense. It can be used to add a unique kick to salads, sandwiches, pizzas, or cooked dishes, and its flavor pairs well with a variety of ingredients.
What are the Uses of Arugula?
Arugula is a versatile leafy green that can be used in various ways in cooking. Here are some common uses of it:
- Salads: It is often used as a base for salads or mixed with other greens. Its peppery flavor adds a zesty kick to salads, and it pairs well with a wide range of ingredients such as fruits, cheeses, nuts, and vinaigrettes.
- Sandwiches and Wraps: Arugula can be added to sandwiches, wraps, or burgers to provide a fresh and peppery element. It adds both flavor and texture to these types of dishes.
- Pizzas and Flatbreads: It makes a delicious topping for pizzas and flatbreads. It can be added fresh or lightly wilted on top of the cooked pizza to add a peppery and slightly bitter contrast to the other ingredients.
- Pesto: Arugula can be used as an alternative or addition to traditional basil in pesto sauces. Arugula pesto has a unique flavor profile and works well as a sauce for pasta, as a spread, or as a dip.
- Soups and Stews: It can be added to soups and stews to provide a burst of flavor and a vibrant green color. It can be stirred in at the end of cooking to retain its fresh taste.
- Sautéed or Wilted: Arugula can be quickly sautéed or wilted in a pan with some olive oil and garlic. This method softens the leaves and mellows out the flavor slightly. It can be used as a side dish, mixed into pasta, or served as a bed for other proteins.
- Garnish: Its leaves can be used as a garnish to add a pop of color and flavor to a variety of dishes, from appetizers to main courses.
What are the Health Benefits of Arugula?
Arugula offers several potential health benefits due to its nutrient content. Here are some of the health benefits associated with consuming it:
- Nutrient-rich: Arugula is low in calories but rich in vitamins and minerals. It is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, which are important for immune function, skin health, vision, and bone health. It also contains folate, calcium, potassium, and iron.
- Antioxidant properties: Arugula contains various antioxidants, including vitamin C and beta-carotene. Antioxidants help protect the body against damage caused by harmful free radicals, potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases and supporting overall health.
- Supports bone health: Arugula is an excellent source of vitamin K, which plays a vital role in bone health and helps with calcium absorption. Adequate vitamin K intake is important for maintaining bone density and reducing the risk of fractures.
- Promotes heart health: Arugula contains nitrates, which have been linked to improved cardiovascular health. Nitrates may help relax blood vessels, reduce blood pressure, and improve blood flow, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease.
- Supports digestion: Arugula is a good source of dietary fiber, which promotes healthy digestion and can help prevent constipation. Fibre also contributes to feelings of fullness, which can aid in weight management.
- Potential cancer-fighting properties: Arugula belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family, known for its potential cancer-protective properties. It contains compounds like glucosinolates, which have been associated with a reduced risk of certain types of cancers, such as lung, breast, and colorectal cancer.
- Hydration support: Arugula has a high water content, which can contribute to overall hydration and support proper bodily functions.
How to Store Arugula?
To ensure the freshness and longevity of arugula, it’s important to store it properly. Here are some guidelines on how to store it:
- Remove any ties or bands: If your arugula came bundled or tied together, remove any ties or bands before storing. This allows air to circulate and helps prevent moisture buildup.
- Rinse and dry: Before storing arugula, rinse it under cold water to remove any dirt or debris. Shake off excess water or use a salad spinner to dry the leaves thoroughly. Excess moisture can cause the leaves to wilt more quickly.
- Store in a breathable container: Place the arugula in a breathable container or a perforated plastic bag. This allows air to circulate the leaves and helps prevent condensation and spoilage. Avoid using sealed plastic bags, as they can trap moisture and cause the arugula to become soggy.
- Store in the refrigerator: Place the container of arugula in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer or a cool part of the fridge. The ideal temperature for storing arugula is around 32 to 36°F (0 to 2°C).
- Use within a few days: Arugula is best when consumed fresh, so try to use it within a few days of purchase. The leaves may start to wilt and lose their crispness after a few days.
- Avoid storing with ethylene-producing fruits: Arugula is sensitive to ethylene gas, which is naturally produced by certain fruits like apples, bananas, and avocados. To prevent the arugula from wilting quickly, store it away from these ethylene-producing fruits.
How do you Use Arugula?
It is a versatile leafy green that can be used in a variety of ways in your cooking. Here are some popular ways to use it:
Arugula is commonly used as a salad green. Its peppery flavour adds a zesty kick to salads. You can use arugula as a base or mix it with other salad greens. Pair it with ingredients like cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, goat cheese, nuts, or citrus fruits. Dress it with a simple vinaigrette to complement the flavours.
Sandwiches and Wraps
Add a handful of arugula leaves to your sandwiches or wraps. It adds freshness and a bit of spiciness to the overall flavour. It works well with various fillings, such as roasted vegetables, grilled chicken, turkey, or even cheese.
Pizza and Flatbreads
Top your pizzas or flatbreads with it for an added burst of flavour. After baking, add a handful of fresh arugula leaves on top for a vibrant and slightly peppery taste. It’s a great way to balance the richness of the other ingredients.
Use arugula as a unique twist in pesto sauce. Blend it with garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil to create a delicious arugula pesto. Enjoy it with pasta, spread it on sandwiches, or use it as a dip.
Sautéed or Wilted
Heat a bit of olive oil in a pan, add arugula, and sauté it quickly until it wilts. This softens the leaves and mellows out the flavour slightly. Sautéed arugula can be served as a side dish, mixed into pasta, or used as a bed for other proteins.
Soups and Stews
Add it to soups or stews near the end of cooking to add a fresh and vibrant touch. It adds colour, flavour, and nutrients to your warm and comforting dishes.
Use arugula leaves as a garnish to add a pop of colour and flavour to various dishes. It works well on top of soups, roasted vegetables, grilled meats, or even scrambled eggs.
In conclusion, arugula is a leafy green vegetable with a unique flavour that adds a zesty and slightly bitter kick to dishes. It is versatile and can be used in a variety of ways, such as in salads, sandwiches, pizzas, and pesto sauces. Arugula is not only flavorful but also nutrient-rich, providing vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate, calcium, potassium, and iron. It offers potential health benefits, including support for bone health, heart health, digestion, and antioxidant protection. With its availability and ease of preparation, arugula is a great addition to a well-rounded diet, offering both flavour and nutrition to your meals.