Arugula

Eruca sativa

USDA Nutritional Info

Arugula (a.k.a. Rocket or Roquette) is a member of the cabbage/mustard family, Brassicacea or Cruciferae. It is native to the Mediterranean region. Like other members of its family, arugula is a rich source of nutrients, phytochemicals, and antioxidants, making it both healthful and possibly anti-cancerous.

Storage: Store arugula in a closed plastic bag in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer. Like most other delicate leaf veggies, it won’t last long in top condition and should be used as soon as possible.

Prep: Wash arugula thoroughly in cool water; arugula grows close to the ground and thus is prone to grit. Shake off the water and roll gently in a towel to dry, or use a salad spinner. Remove any discolored parts and thick stems.

If you need pieces smaller than whole leaves, it’s recommended to tear rather than chop them.

If using arugula raw, wait until just before serving to toss with dressing.

Preserving: Arugula doesn’t dry well as the flavor changes quite a bit (not necessarily in a good way).

To freeze in quantity, prep, then blanch quickly in boiling water, just until wilted. Remove and plunge into cold water immediately to stop cooking, then drain well and pack into plastic freezer baggies or rigid plastic containers. Remove excess air (in bags) or in containers place a layer of plastic wrap or foil under the lid directly on top of the greens to prevent contact with air.  Label and freeze.

To freeze smaller amounts, chop and pack into ice cube trays, then cover with a bit of water. After freezing, pop out cubes and store them in a plastic bag with the air removed.  You can also make an arugula pesto (see Basil) and freeze that in ice cube trays, mini-muffin or full-size muffin tins, depending on the quantity you think you’re likely to want at any one time.

Recipes:

If you love the taste of arugula, use the small leaves raw as the basis for a salad. Larger leaves are stronger-flavored and a bit tougher; consider cooking them.

Impromptu Arugula Salad: so simple; so delicious

from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

  • Fresh, young arugula leaves, about 1 1/2 to 2 cups per person
  • salt
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • hard-boiled egg (optional)
  • parmesan or other hard cheese (optional)

Go over arugula carefully, removing any huge ribs and tearing large leaves into bite-size pieces.  Wash and dry thoroughly.

Toss in a large bowl with a few pinches of salt. Drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat leaves when tossed. Squeeze some lemon juice over; taste.

Serve heaped high in center of plate. Grate cheese over, if desired. If using egg,  separate egg yolk from white, chop white and garnish salad with it. Then crumble yolk over all.

Spiced Pumkin, Lentil, and Goat Cheese Salad

From Bon Appetit, October 2009

Makes 6 servings

  • 3/4 c. French green lentils
  • 6 cups 1-inch pieces peeled seeded sugar pumpkin or butternut squash (from about one 2-pound whole pumpkin)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika (or substitute your powdered or fresh chili pepper of choice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • 1 cup soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Place lentils in small bowl. Cover with cold water and soak 10 minutes; drain.

Cook lentils in boiling salted water until tender but firm, about 30 minutes. Drain lentils. Rinse under cold water, then drain.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place pumpkin in large bowl; toss with 2 tablespoons oil, cumin, paprika, and sea salt. Arrange pumpkin in single layer on baking sheet; roast 20 minutes. Turn pumpkin over. Roast until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool.

Combine lentils, pumpkin, and oil from baking sheet with arugula, half of goat cheese, mint, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among plates; sprinkle remaining goat cheese over.

Sources: Angelic Organics: http://www.angelicorganics.com/Vegetables/vegetablescontent.php?contentfile=vegstorage; Encyclopedia Britannica: http://www.britannica.com/; Epicurious: http://www.epicurious.com; Barbara Kafka: Vegetable Love; Kitchen Dictionary: http://www.food.com/library/arugula-189; Deborah Madison: Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone ; Marian Morash: The Victory Garden Cookbook; Andrea Peirce: Practical Guide to Natural Medicines ; WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/super-veggies-cruciferous-vegetables

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2 Comments

  1. Sue said,

    March 31, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    After I have frozen the arugula, can I defrost it and use it in a salad?

    • twentyfourcarrot said,

      April 2, 2015 at 4:53 pm

      No – the blanching and freezing transform the fresh green leaves into something else entirely. Frozen arugula can be used as a cooked green on its own or in soups and casseroles, on pizza, or whatever you can think of.

      I suppose perhaps I’m being too stringent in my definition of the word “salad”; previously frozen arugula could be used in a salad as a cooked green, certainly. Just don’t expect it to produce a crunchy raw leaf salad after spending time on the stove and in the freezer! 🙂


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