Arugula’s vernacular name is garden rocket, and is also known as roquette, rugula, and Italian cress. It is a leafy green that is a member of the cabbage family. Arugula is native to the Mediterranean region and is often found in Italian cuisine.
Arugula is nutrient rich and extremely low in calories, making it an important super food. Arugula is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, folate, calcium, beta-carotene, lutein, magnesium and manganese. Studies have shown that a diet rich in these vitamins can promote healthy eyes, stronger bones and a stronger immune system.
Arugula is typically sold loose in bins or in bunches with the roots still attached. When purchasing arugula at the grocery store or farmer’s market, look for arugula with bright, fresh green leaves; avoiding leaves with holes, tears, or yellowed edges. Larger leaves will have a stronger flavor than smaller ones.
To store, arugula should be wrapped tightly in plastic and be kept in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. If properly stored, arugula will keep for 3-4 days. Once ready to eat, rinse the arugula leaves thoroughly in cool water, as the leaves tend to be gritty, and dry on a paper towel.
Arugula is a versatile ingredient in the kitchen. It is considered a salad green, leaf vegetable, and annual herb. Arugula has a spicy, peppery, mustard flavor that can sometimes be bitter if not in season. Arugula is a flavorful addition to salads, adds freshness to soups, a finishing touch to pizza, or can be substituted for basil to create a spicier pesto. If arugula is not available, watercress can be substituted for a similar peppery flavor. Spinach can also be used to lend similar texture and nutrients but will lack the distinct robust flavor of arugula.
Wilted arugula makes a wonderful addition to pasta dishes. This penne pasta is simple and easy to make, yet has wonderful fresh bold flavors; making this meal perfect for a weeknight dinner or entertaining company!
Penne with Spicy Chicken Sausage, Beans, and Arugula
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes Serves: 4
1/2 pound penne pasta
4 links chicken sausage
2 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup pesto
1/2 cup white wine
1 (15.0 ounce can) cannellini beans, undrained
3 cups torn arugula leaves
2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place penne in the pot, cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente, and drain. In a skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage until evenly brown and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Cool and slice.
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat, and cook the garlic 1 minute, until lightly browned. Mix in sausage, pesto, and white wine. Cook and stir until heated through. Mix in beans with liquid and arugula, and cook until arugula is wilted. Stir in the tomatoes, and cook until heated through. Toss with pasta, season with salt and pepper, and top with goat cheese to serve.
Chef Heather Hunsaker attended and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, but has been developing family friendly meals since she was nine years old in her mother’s kitchen. She is an avid crockpotter and knows how to get food on the table in a pinch. She currently serves as a writer and recipe developer for meal planning site www.foodonthetable.com.