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Andreas Strauch

Community Manager at Kitchen Stories

The best way to shop? With the seasons. So, every 2 weeks at Kitchen Stories, we'll be highlighting a different in-season ingredient along with 3 new recipes. To the market, we go!

Arugula, rocket, or roquette, whatever you know it as, this here is one of the most versatile of salad leaves. Punchier than spinach and more substantial than many other leaves, it pairs well across the board with green or sweet salads, as a sandwich topping, or as a peppery addition to pasta, risotto, and pan dishes. Here’s everything you need to know about arugula, plus 5 varied recipes and what to do with too-bitter leaves.

Arugula has gained enormous popularity over the last 20 years and is among one of the most popular salad varieties. It owes this mainly to its peppery, slightly bitter taste, which comes from the high levels of mustard oils found in arugula. But that’s not all, it also contains comparatively high levels of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and minerals such as potassium and calcium.

Though arugula has been cultivated for thousands of years and was enjoyed by the Romans themselves, it also grows wild like a weed. Similar to the dandelion, which can also be eaten as a salad, arugula is very robust and also likes to grow by the roadside. It is, therefore, also suitable for growing on the balcony or in the garden. There are two basic types of arugula: the milder salad arugula, with its somewhat larger, slightly rounded leaves, and the smaller, very peppery wild arugula, with its narrow, pointed leaves. But be careful when growing your own: In the wild, poisonous ragwort, which looks extremely similar, can often be lurking among the arugula.

1. When and where to buy arugula

Arugula is usually available all year round, although it tastes most intense from late summer until December. In general, the rule of thumb is, that larger leaves and thick stems are more peppery, but also more often bitter than young, light green leaves. It’s best to buy organic, or regionally cultivated arugula to get the most out of eating the whole, nutritious stem. Always look out for crisp leaves as withered leaves and dark spots are an indication that the product is not as fresh as it should be.

2. How to store arugula best

Keep arugula in the vegetable compartment of your refrigerator. Wrapped or in a container, it will keep for up to 3 days. Loose leaves should be wrapped in damp paper towels, so they can retain the moisture. Before serving, you can also put the leaves in ice water for a few minutes to restore their crispness. If the leaves wilt, they’re best left out of salads, but as long as they still smell fresh and haven’t gone mushy they can be used in warm dishes, such as pasta.

3. How to clean and cut arugula

Usually, arugula is offered ready to cook and often only needs to be washed. Arugula from the market sometimes comes as a whole bunch. Here you should cut off the individual leaves about 2 - 3 cm. below the base of the leaves on the stem. Thick or long stems can be shortened, because they contain the most nitrates and most of the - but very healthy - bitter substances.

4. How to use arugula

Use the whole leaves raw in salad, combined with sweet fruits, as a topping for sandwiches or pizza, for a piquant arugula pesto, or as a secret ingredient in your smoothie. In its home country Italy, for example, it is often eaten with ‘Tagliata di Manzo’ (steak and Parmesan cheese) but also spices up pasta dishes of all kinds. When heated, it loses its bitter taste and some of its mustard-like aroma, which otherwise can sometimes remain quite prominent. So if you're stuck with a particularly bitter packet of arugula, just add it to a pan with pasta, meat, or eggs to neutralize these notes!

5. Arugula recipes to try now

Throughout the week we'll be releasing new arugula recipes, so check back regularly for fresh ideas. Or, you can start with these recipes right now:

Fennel, arugula, and apple salad

Fennel, arugula, and apple salad

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BLT pasta

BLT pasta

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Pasta with arugula pesto, oven tomatoes, and spicy shrimp

Pasta with arugula pesto, oven tomatoes, and spicy shrimp

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Steak and arugula salad with Parmesan dressing

Steak and arugula salad with Parmesan dressing

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Arugula salad with roasted chicken and nutty croutons

Arugula salad with roasted chicken and nutty croutons

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You have a recipe using arugula that we need to know about? Tell us in the comments below or upload your recipe in our app to share it with the community! We’re looking forward to it!

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