(Eruca sativa) – is a beautiful hearty leaf with a slightly peppery/”green” flavour and is rich in vitamin C and potassium. It brightens salads and even smoothies.
Arugula has been around since Roman times and it became popular in trendy food circles in the 1980’s.
In Italy, specifically in Southern Italy, arugula is “arucula.” When Italian immigrants made their way to Canada and the United States in the 1900’s they brought this word with them and it morphed and changed into arugula. In Northern Italy, arugula is called “ruchetta”. It eventually worked its way over the alps and became “rocket.” If you have ever read a recipe written by an Englishman/woman, they will refer to arugula as “rocket.”
Arugula can be used fresh in salads, tossed into sauces just before serving or even used as a pizza topping.
Fun fact about arugula: Romans used to refer to it as an aphrodisiac - one of the most famous Roman poets – Virgil – wrote this in “Moretum” – “arugula excites the sexual desire of drowsy people.” I can neither confirm nor deny this statement; in the meantime, here are a few recipes to get you started!
Arugula, Parsley Pesto
This can be used to toss with hot pasta for a light dinner or with cold pasta as a base for a pasta salad. Drizzle over chicken, beef, pork or roasted veggies to step it up a notch. Use it to replace tomato sauce on your pizza; bake your pizza at 450 for 10 – 15 minutes, crack an egg or two on top and put it back in the oven until the eggs are to your liking, serve with a glass of chilled white wine and you have a beautiful summer dinner.
4 cups packed fresh arugula or spinach
2 cloves garlic or 2 stalks garlic scape, chopped
1 head roasted garlic (cut top off garlic, place in foil, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, bake for 25 – 30 minutes at 325)
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbs. toasted walnuts
2 tbs. fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (or parmesan Reggiano)
Squeeze roasted garlic onto a large cutting board. Place 2 cups arugula on top of the garlic and chop/mix until arugula is quite small and garlic has started to blend in. Place remaining 2 cups of arugula on top of the already chopped arugula and continue chopping until arugula is very fine. Place into a large mixing bowl. Chop walnuts until they are very finely chopped and add to the arugula. Drizzle lemon juice and olive oil over arugula mixture and toss well. Add grated cheese and continue mixing until well blended. You should have a “sauce” consistency. If pesto is too thick, simply add a little more olive oil. Taste and season with salt if desired. Note* - this pesto can be made in a food processor; I just prefer it a little chunky. Store leftover pesto in a mason jar sealed tight. Pesto will stay good in your fridge for about 2 weeks.
Grilled Salmon with Wilted Arugula and White Beans
½ cup balsamic vinegar
4 salmon filets
½ cup Dijon mustard
4 Roma tomatoes, sliced thinly
1 cup course breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
1 tbs. olive oil
I large onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic or 2 stalks garlic scape, minced
2 19-oz cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
5 cups fresh arugula or spinach
2/3 cup of white wine
Pinch of chili flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pour balsamic into a small saucepan and place over low heat for about 10 – 15 minutes, or until reduced by 1/3 and starting to thicken. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat Grill to 425 degrees. On a parchment lined baking sheet, placed salmon. Pat salmon dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Spread Dijon over salmon. Lay 4 tomato slices over Dijon and finally, sprinkle liberally with breadcrumbs. Drizzle very lightly with olive oil. Grill salmon for about 15 minutes until starting to turn opaque.
While salmon cooks, heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tbs. olive oil. When olive oil is hot, add onions and cook until starting to brown. When onions have browned, add minced garlic and stir. Add drained cannellini beans and wine and chili flakes and heat through, about 2 minutes. Just before ready to serve, add arugula and stir until arugula has wilted. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve salmon over a scoop of the bean mixture and a drizzleof balsamic.
Arugula, Manchego and Chorizo Salad
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
1 tbs. Dijon
6 arugula or spinach
½ cups fried chick peas (garbanzo beans)*
½ cup Manchego cheese (Spanish goat’s milk cheese in the cheese section at Save On)
2 links cured chorizo sausage, sliced thin
Place vinegar, olive oil, Dijon and a little salt and pepper into a small bowl and mix well.
Place arugula on individual plates and top with chick peas, Manchego cheese, chorizo and tomatoes. Drizzle with dressing just before serving.
*to make fried chick peas, simply drain and rinse chick peas and lay on a towel to dry for about 30 minutes (or gently rub with towel to dry). Heat 1 ½ “ oil in a deep skillet. When oil has reached 350 degrees, gently add chick peas. Let fry until colour has changed to a light brown colour. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate and season with salt and pepper. Let cool.
**for smoked tomatoes, simply turn smoker to lowest smoke setting. Cut grape tomatoes in half and lay on a piece of tin foil (poke little holes in the foil before you lay the tomatoes on it to better allow the smoke to circulate through the tomatoes), drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place on smoker for about 2 hours.
As a part of the garlic plant's reproductive cycle, they produce flower stalks, or scapes. They start out growing relatively straight and start to curl around the ends. The stalks are cut off to encourage growth to the garlic bulb beneath the ground.
Garlic scape can be used in any recipe calling for garlic; just remember that when garlic scape is sautéed or heated, it loses about ¼ of its garlic flavour so make sure if you are substituting garlic scape in a recipe that calls for garlic, use extra scape.
Grilled Garlic Scape
Grill garlic scape and green onions until lightly charred and toss with a little lemon, salt and olive oil for an interesting and delicious burger (turkey, vegetarian or beef) topping. Or as a side dish.
Roast garlic scape in the oven for about 25 minutes are 350 (drizzle with olive oil and salt) and place in a food processor with softened butter. Remove to a piece of plastic wrap and form into a log. Place in the refrigerator to harden. Place a slice of garlic butter on top of a freshly grilled steak or a baked sweet or russet potato.