About Arugula

Arugula is a peppery-tasting spring salad green. It is popular among edible gardeners because it is ready to harvest from seed in just a few weeks (probably why it is also known as “rocket green” in some parts of the world). Arugula can be harvested in the spring and fall, and tastes best in cool weather. When the weather gets hotter it will taste spicier, and go to seed very quickly.

How do you know when it is ready to harvest? 

If you prefer baby greens, you can harvest the leaves when they are young. Otherwise, wait until the leaves are slightly bigger (like what you see at the store). To harvest arugula, simply cut the green off at the stem, about an inch or so from the base. Only cut the leaves that are ready to harvest, the plant will continue to produce more leaves and you’ll get multiple harvests out of a single plant.

How do you store them?

Wrap arugula in a damp paper towel and store in a loose plastic bag. Wash them when you are ready to eat them. *TIP* — save the plastic produce bags you get at the grocery store, these are great bags to store greens in. Allowing the greens to have some air circulation will prevent them from getting soggy. If the greens look wilty after a few days, shock them in some ice water for a few minutes to crisp them back up. Although best enjoyed right away, arugula will last three-five days stored this way.

How do you cook them?

Wash arugula in plenty of cold water (may also add a bit of salt to help draw dirt away from the leaves). Young, tender arugula is best by itself in a salad or a sandwich. If the peppery taste is too strong for you, try mixing it with other milder lettuce varieties.

Arugula can also be steamed, sautéed, or added to a variety of dishes such as pasta, or pizza fresh out of the oven. Cook very lightly to retain its bright green color and delicate texture. Arugula also makes a great substitute for basil in pesto.


Arugula and Ricotta Pesto

-makes about 1 ½ cups pesto-

3 medium garlic cloves

¼ cup pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, or sunflower seeds

1 cup packed fresh arugula leaves, washed and dried thoroughly

1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves, washed and dried thoroughly

¼ cup packed fresh basil leaves

¼ cup + 3 TB olive oil

1/3 cup ricotta cheese

2 TB parmesan cheese, grated

Salt and pepper, to taste

In a food processor or blender, combine garlic, nuts or seeds, arugula, parsley, basil, and oil. Pulse just until it forms a smooth mixture (don’t overmix, will reduce the fresh flavor). Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and stir in the cheeses, salt, and pepper.

Try pesto with cooked pasta (add a few tablespoons of pasta water to the pesto to help coat the pasta), on a pizza, or as a dip.

*Made too much? Pesto oxidizes quickly, so it is best stored in the freezer in ice cube trays, covered with plastic wrap. Then you can just pop out small portions and use them when you need them! Allow them to come to room temp gradually to keep the fresh flavor, or toss with warm pasta.*