All About Arugula

  • 01 of 06

    All About Arugula

    Arugula. Getty Images

    Arugula is a dark green, peppery leaf that works equally well in salads or as a cooked green. It's available year-round  but is at its best when the weather is mild since warmer weather makes it bolt and turn bitter.

    Look for dark greens leaves of a uniform color. Avoid yellowing leaves, damages leaves, wilted leaves, or excessively moist-looking leaves. A bit of dirt is fine - it is likely the result of recent rain or watering (splashing dirt up onto the leaves).

    Note: Arugula is sold either...MORE by the bunch or as loose leaves (much like spinach). In general, bunched arugula has larger leaves and loose-leaf arugula has smaller leaves.

    Continue to 2 of 6 below.
  • 02 of 06

    Cleaning & Storing Arugula

    Cleaning Greens
    Washing Lettuce. Photo © Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

    Bunched arugula needs to have its tough stems removed and discarded before cleaning.

    Arugula is best cleaned in a large bowl or basin of cool water:

    1. Gently swish the leaves in the cool water, letting any dirt fall to the bottom of the bowl.
    2. Lift clean leaves out of the water and transfer to a salad spinner or several layers of paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
    3. Dry in the spinner or by rolling in the towels.
    4. Transfer leaves to a layer or two of paper towels (or clean, dry ones if you dried...MORE the leaves with towels), gently roll them up, and store in a loosely closed plastic bag in the fridge.

    See this Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning & Storing Greens for pictures and more details.

    Arugula stored this way will last up to a week. Uncleaned leaves keep about 3 days.

    Continue to 3 of 6 below.
  • 03 of 06

    Different Arugula for Different Recipes

    Big and Small Arugula Leaves
    Arugula Leaves. Photo © Getty Images/ Maximilian Stock Ltd.

    Smaller arugula leaves tend to be milder, while larger leaves tend to have a more aggressive, peppery kick. They are great in salads on their own or combined with other lettuces.

    Wild arugula - sometimes available from foragers in the late spring and again in the fall in temperate regions - is much more peppery than most cultivated leaves. It's perfect for using as a garnish since just a few leaves give plenty of kick. It's also great other raw preparations where its intense flavor can be...MORE appreciated.

    Larger arugula leaves tend to have a stronger flavor, so they can be cooked successfully without losing all their flavor or used raw by those who like its assertive flavor.

    Continue to 4 of 6 below.
  • 04 of 06

    Arugula Salad Recipes

    Arugula Strawberry Feta Salad with Walnuts
    Arugula Salad with Strawberries. Photo © Westend61/Getty Images

    Arugula adds a peppery kick to salads of all sorts, pairing particularly well with sweet mild lettuces like Boston (a.k.a. butter lettuce) and Bibb lettuces. Dressings made with olive oil and balsamic vinegar highlight the bold flavor of arugula, as do lemon juice-based dressings. Here are a few of my favorite arugula-specific salads:

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Cooked Arugula Recipes

    Simple Pasta with Greens
    Penne with Arugula. Photo © Les Hirondelles Photography/Getty Images

    Arugula also works lightly cooked. Use it as you would spinach - in quickly sautéed and tossed with pasta, tossed into stir-frys, or added to soups - cooking it quickly. Be warned that it has a stronger flavor and tougher, more fibrous texture than spinach.

    Continue to 6 of 6 below.
  • 06 of 06

    Arugula as a Garnish

    Eggplant Arugula Salad
    Grilled Eggplant with Arugula. Photo © vanillaechoes/Getty Images

    Small or wild arugula leaves – with their bright, peppery kick but relatively tender texture – make pretty and delicious garnishes. A small handful on top of a plate of pasta or wilting gently into a bowl of soup adds flavor, texture, and color to a dish.