You've been adding arugula to your salads for as long as you remember. You like the tangy aroma of these small leaves, which can enhance a dull mix of leafy greens in a second. But use arugula not only when making salads. It's a great add-on to pizza or sauces!
I like arugula in many salad combos, but I've recently discovered that fresh arugula is not the only way to enjoy it. It can actually be added to almost anything if you do a little bit of research. And it’s not complicated at all! Plus, it’s affordable and can turn a common meal into a fancy one!
Arugula, a.k.a. rocket or rucola, is part of the same family – cruciferous vegetables – as broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts.
In recent years, multiple studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like arugula decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion, increased energy, and overall lower weight, as Medicalnewstoday.com reported. According to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 2 cups/40 grams of arugula contains about 10 calories.
Arugula leaves are tender and bite-sized with a tangy, peppery and a little bitter flavor. Arugula is most commonly consumed fresh, in salads. You can also add it to sandwiches and wraps instead of the usual lettuce, or add it to omelets or scrambled eggs.
But these are not the only ways you can incorporate arugula into your diet. Here's how to use arugula in other dishes than salad.
How to use arugula to
1. Add it to pizza
In Italy, fresh rocket is often added to pizza just before the baking ends or immediately before serving so that it will not wilt in the heat. So, you may want to put it on your homemade pizza too. Arugula makes a great combo with prosciutto and parmesan.
2. Add it to smoothies
The easiest way to use arugula isn’t actually cooking. You can throw a handful of arugula in your blender and turn it into a fresh juice or smoothie. Just like other leafy greens, it can be added to almost any smoothie. Combine it with avocado, kale, cucumbers, pears, bananas, mangos, strawberries and fresh ginger. One thing is good to have in mind: combine arugula mainly with sweet fruits to minimize its bitterness.
3. Make arugula soup
A basic veggie soup can become even more nourishing by adding arugula to it. If you want to have arugula in your soup, add it to your boiling pot when the other veggies are already cooked through. Try not to expose it to heat for more than 3 minutes, then transfer everything to a blender and blend until smooth. You can add heavy cream or coconut milk to it. The more arugula you add, the more you’ll feel its peppery but fresh taste. You can actually add arugula leaves to any soup, with or without meat.
4. In sauces
Arugula is a great substitute for other greens in fresh sauces. If you like its strong taste, there’s no reason you can’t replace basil with it in a traditional pesto recipe. Just remove its stems before adding it to your food processor. You can enrich a classic pesto sauce recipe by adding both basil and arugula, pumpkin seeds, almonds, avocado, or heavy cream.
You can also make some dips. For example, blend arugula with cottage cheese, mayonnaise, some lemon juice, chives, salt, and pepper. Then you just need some pretzels or flatbread to dip in it or use it as a salad dressing.
5. Sautée, as a side or to complete a side dish
Arugula can be wilted, sautéed or steamed. Pay attention though - it tends to sautée faster than other greens because of its tenderness. Just cook it like you would do it with spinach, in some olive oil.
If you want a nutritious side dish made entirely with arugula, add thinly sliced garlic and red pepper flakes when cooking. Right before you eat it, you can grate Parmesan over it. You should also know that, like spinach, arugula shrinks down a lot. If you cook arugula as a side for many people, consider using a large quantity.
If you choose to wilt or sautée your arugula, you can also incorporate it into a variety of recipes to boost the nutritional value and enhance the taste. Let’s say you top your baked potato with it, or a pot of pasta, or a hummus bowl, or some veggie puree. Add some cooked arugula to it and play with other ingredients like goat cheese, spring onion, or roasted peanuts.