This green leaf vegetable is similar to spinach as it can be served hot or cold, but it does have a stronger and more peppery taste than spinach. Also, like spinach, it will wilt when cooked and become reduced in volume. Its nutritional value is the same as spinach, which is a good source of iron, vitamin K and it’s low in calories. Vitamin K is known for increasing bone and brain health.
Its leaves look like dandelion leaves. Like dandelion greens, it should never be used raw alone, but instead accompanied by other salad greens. Just adding a little arugula to other salad greens will really add zest to a salad.
Whether you are going to use it hot or cold, arugula should be washed to remove any dirt and any tough stems should be discarded. Only purchase arugula that has rich green leaves without any yellow ones. The sprigs of arugula that have smaller leaves are milder and those with larger leaves have a stronger peppery taste.
Arugula is delicious sautéed in olive oil with minced onions, shallots or garlic or used in stir fries. This combination can be used as a side dish or as an addition to rice pilaf, soups or as a topping for grilled fish or chicken.
For a very unique and interesting salad, combine fresh, raw arugula and basil with nasturtiums flowers. These flowers, which have an almost cinnamon flavor will add lots of color and taste to the salad. Toasted pecans, almonds and pine nuts add flavor and texture to a blend of salad greens that contain arugula as well. These salads are so flavorful that only a light and simple dressing such as olive oil and balsamic vinegar is needed.
The flavor of arugula complements many cheeses like parmesan, feta, gorgonzola and blue cheese when used together in salads. Gruyere cheese melted with arugula makes a good grilled sandwich. Besides cheeses, it also complements chicken and tuna salads and makes a great bed on which to serve them. Need a garnish? Use arugula instead of watercress for many entrees.
It is a good complement for sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and other fresh garden vegetables or as another ingredient for pesto. However as you use arugula, you will find that it adds zest, flavor and color to any dish.