Radical Rocket

Arugula, also known as rocket, was first grown and used as a medicinal herb in ancient Roman times. It was also considered an aphrodisiac!  Today this leafy green has become popular in many cuisines. Arugula is an edible herb in the brassica or mustard family along with cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and collard greens.  The leaves are a deep green in color with deep notches up and down both sides.  It is best to harvest them before they are full grown as they tend to get bitter as they mature.  As a young plant, they have a light pepper taste that can enhance any meal.  Another bonus, if you happen to grow it, the leaves, seed and flowers are all edible.

This delicious green is a nutrient-dense food that is high in fiber and phytochemicals. Arugula is low in sugar, calories, carbohydrates, and fat while high in several vital nutrients.  Arugula contains vitamins C, K and A.  It has calcium, potassium and folate. Studies have shown it has cancer fighting properties due to the antioxidants it contains.  It’s made of about 90% water so it’s good for staying hydrated.  The levels of chlorophyll in this leaf help prevent liver damage.  It’s been shown to reduce inflammation while also cleansing and detoxifying the body with high levels of fiber.  This small leaf is definitely a powerhouse for health.  

This leafy vegetable can be easily added to a dish.  Use it in place of kale or lettuce in a salad.  Add it like a spice and chop it fine.  Leave it whole and just throw it in your recipe just don’t cook it heavily.  It will get bitter if overcooked.  I picked up my arugula from Walmart with all the other salad like items such as spinach and kale.  Make your grocery list and pick up this member of the mustard family.  Look for fresh leaves with no wilting or browning.  Then join me in the kitchen for easy recipes using spicy green!  

Arugula-Mint Pesto Green Beans

½ cup raw skin-on almonds

1 garlic clove, finely grated

2 cups (lightly packed) baby arugula

2oz Parmesan, shaved, divided

1 cup mint leaves, plus more for serving

cup olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

12oz sugar snap peas

12oz green beans, trimmed

2 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice

Lemon wedges (for serving)

Preheat oven 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toast almonds on a prepared baking sheet, tossing once, until fragrant and slightly darkened in color, 8–10 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop half of almonds and set aside. Pulse remaining almonds with garlic, arugula, 1oz Parmesan, and 1 cup mint in food processor to a smooth paste. With motor running, stream in oil and thin with 2 Tbsp. cold water to reach a pourable consistency. Season pesto with salt and pepper. Cook peas and beans in large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and transfer to bowl of ice water and chill until cold. Drain peas and beans. Pat dry with paper towels. Transfer to large bowl and toss with lemon juice and 3 Tbsp. pesto. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Arrange peas and beans in large bowl or platter over remaining pesto. Top with more mint leaves, reserved almonds and remaining Parmesan. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

Recipe adapted from bonapetit.com

 

Watermelon Arugula Salad

3 Tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil  

2 tsps. white balsamic vinegar

½ tsp kosher salt

2 cups arugula

1 cup jicama, diced or sliced into thin sticks

1 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

2 cups bite sized watermelon chunks

Whisk olive oil, white balsamic vinegar and salt together in small bowl and set aside.  Combine arugula, jicama, onions and tomatoes in large salad bowl. Drizzle vinaigrette over salad mixture and toss to coat. Add feta cheese and watermelon to individual servings before eating.

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com.

 

Bacon Pizza with Arugula

1 package refrigerated pizza dough 

5 thick bacon slices 

2 cups grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise

½ tsp crushed red pepper 

1 Tbsp. yellow cornmeal 

½ cup marinara sauce 

¾ cup shredded Italian blend cheese 

1 cup baby arugula

1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil 

½ tsp white wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 450°.  Prepare dough as directed on package.  Cook bacon in skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon and crumble. Add tomatoes and pepper to drippings in pan.  Cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Sprinkle baking sheet with cornmeal.  Roll dough into 12-inch circle on prepared baking sheet. Spread sauce evenly over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Top with tomatoes and bacon. Sprinkle cheese over top. Bake at 450° on bottom oven rack for 17 minutes or until crust is golden. Combine arugula and remaining ingredients.  Top pizza with arugula mixture.

Recipe adapted from myrecipes.com.

 

Linguini with Arugula 

12oz linguini or other dried pasta

3 Tbsps. avocado oil

7 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

2 large handfuls (about 5oz) baby arugula

½ cup freshly shredded or shaved Parmesan, plus extra for topping 

Cook pasta al dente in large stockpot of salted water according to package instructions.  While pasta is cooking, heat oil in sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add sliced garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until it begins to turn just slightly golden. Remove from heat.  Once pasta is cooked, drain it. Then immediately stir in garlic and olive oil mixture, arugula and Parmesan cheese.  Toss until combined. Serve immediately, topped with extra Parmesan cheese.

 

Recipe adapted from finecooking.com