How much do you know about arugula lettuce? In this ingredient spotlight, we’re going over the must-know facts, from nutrition benefits to prepping and storing.
Every once in a while I get out of a romaine or butterhead lettuce kick and venture into the arugula lettuce world. It’s one of my favorites for using on sandwiches or adding to salads or topping pizzas!
Arugula is a bright green lettuce variation found in a lot of Mediterranean dishes, and it looks like little pointy leaves. Funny enough, the 2-3 inch leaves are often referred to as “rocket leaves” for their shape!
Let’s compare it to other lettuces and look at the benefits, best uses, and more!
Arugula vs. Other Lettuce
Arugula’s closest cousin is probably spinach, though we can also be used in the same kinds of recipes as more water-based lettuces like romaine. Where spinach is sort of sweet but very grassy, arugula is peppery and more bitter! Compared to romaine, arugula is less watery and contains many more nutrients.
Arugula is traditionally grown and harvested in Europe (Italy, Turkey, etc.), as it comes from the Mediterranean region. To this day, that region is still a big arugula production spot, though farming has expanded to include Florida and Arizona. It thrives in cooler temperatures, making fall and spring its prime seasons.
Benefits of Arugula
We all know leafy greens are top tier in the nutrient world, but do you know how many nutrients arugula actually has? It’s jam-packed!
Arugula lettuce is loaded with everything good, from folate and calcium to Vitamins C, K, A, and even potassium. Together, these nutrients benefit the body by supporting the immune system, blood flow, muscles, and bones, and provide antioxidants and electrolytes.
Fun fact: You can chew on an arugula leaf as a natural breath freshener!
How to prep arugula
You can find arugula in the store in bags or containers ready to go, or you can find it in bunches. Leaves that look strong and dry are usually fresh; avoid leaves that look wet or dark.
If you’re cooking with a bunch (versus arugula from the ready-to-eat bags), be sure to cut off any thick stems. Rinse very thoroughly and dry in a salad spinner. Store in the crisper, but hurry and eat – it wilts fast!
How to use arugula in recipes
Arugula can be used in so many of the same ways that you would use other lettuce recipes. It makes a great salad base, sandwich addition or recipe topping and can be enjoyed both raw or cooked! Here are some of my favorite recipes with arugula.