Arugula, also known as rocket, is my favourite green for adding a peppery punch to any salad. Its bold, spicy notes will bring back any dish from the brink of blandness.
It has an uncanny ability to mingle with a myriad of flavours that perfectly complement many dishes. It's the star of my simplest salads, offering quick and hassle-free preparation.
If you're wondering about the differences between rocket, arugula and mizuna, when they're in season, and how to choose and store arugula them, then check out our awesome Rocket vs Arugula post. It's packed with all the information you need.
How to Prepare Arugula and Rocket for Salad
First things first: arugula / rocket need a good bath.
So, put your rocket or mizuna leaves in a colander or strainer, or use the basket from your salad spinner. Rinse them under cold water to remove any dirt, and discard any bruised, wilted, or damaged ones.
Or, you could just plunge them into a bowl of cold water, swish them around to loosen any pesky dirt or grit hidden among the leaves. You might need a few changes of water to get them squeaky clean.
Then carefully lift the leaves from the water so as not to disturb any dirt that has sunk to the bottom. Dirt's a definite no-go in our salads!
Once they're as clean as can be, let's talk drying. Waterlogged greens are the worst in salads!
A salad spinner becomes your best friend here. It's like a carnival ride for your greens, spinning out all the water without bruising their tender leaves.
If you don't have one, a gentle shake and a tender pat with a kitchen towel works too, but trust me, the spinner's where it's at for getting those leaves perfectly dry, ready to soak up your delicious dressing.
The result? Salad leaves that are pristine, dry, and full of life – primed for dressing and ready to be the highlight of your meal.
How to Prepare a Bunch of Rocket / Arugula
Now bunches of rocket take a little bit more effort. Let's start off by grabbing a cutting board and a sharp knife. Place the arugula on the cutting board and trim off any tough stems at the bottom of the bunch.
Next, give a it good rinse under cold running water to remove any dirt or debris and while your at it, get rid of any willted or damaged leaves that you come across.
Gently shake off the excess water or use a salad spinner to dry the leaves.
Now it's time to chop the arugula. You can choose to keep the leaves whole if you prefer, but I recommend chopping them into bite-sized pieces for easier eating.
Hold the bunch of arugula tightly with one hand and use a rocking motion with your knife to slice through the leaves.
Incorporating Arugula into Cooked Dishes
Sure, salads are a no-brainer when tossing in handfuls of arugula, but have you tried it sautéed?
Sizzling some arugula with fresh garlic slices and a glug of olive oil transforms it into a wilting wonder that nests snugly beside a juicy steak or atop a heaping bowl of your favorite pasta.
And let's not forget about pesto – whip up an arugula pesto for a peppery twist on the classic, perfect for smearing on crusty bread or weaving through a tomato-laden risotto.
Oh, and pizza? Trust me, sprinkle some freshly chopped arugula over a steaming slice to add that perfect pop of peppery freshness that cuts through the gooey mozzarella.
What Goes Well with Rocket?
This leafy green with its peppery and slightly spicy flavour is the perfect ingredient to add some excitement to your salads!
It's earthy undertones and slight bitterness adds depth to both sweet and savoury dishes. Imagine the burst of flavours when it's combined with juicy fruits or grilled meats.
Arugula/rockets unique flavour profile perfectly complements Mediterranean, Italian, and French cuisines with their rich and vibrant dishes.
Ideal Flavour Pairings
Wondering what to add to your peppery greens, these are favourite pairings:
- Protein: chicken; eggs (esp. hard boiled); clams; fish; mussels; shellfish (e.g.prawns/shrimp); ham; prosciutto; pancetta, etc.
- Cheese: blue cheese; feta; goat; mozzarella; Parmesan
- Grains: pasta; risotto
- Veggies: artichoke; capsicum/bell peppers, esp. red; corn; cucumbers; endive; fennel; lettuce; mushrooms; potatoes; radicchio; radishes; salad greens; shallots; tomatoes;
- Fruit: apricots, grapes; pears; peaches, watermelon
- Herbs: basil, dill, mint, lovage, watercress
- Nuts: pine nuts, almonds
- Vinegar: balsamic, champagne, red wine, sherry, white wine
- Other: garlic; lemon; pesto
Try your arugula / rocket in these can't go wrong flavour pairing:
- rocket + balsamic vinegar + lemon + olive oil + Parmesan cheese
- rocket + blue cheese + endive + grapes
- rocket + cucumber + feta cheese + mint
- rocket + endive + radicchio
- rocket + fennel + pears
- rocket + pears + prosciutto
- rocket + watermelon