Learn everything there is to know about Arugula lettuce, like why is arugula called rocket, “rocket arugula” and “baby arugula“? What is arugula (is it really a lettuce?) and how to use it. Plus 7 arugula healthy recipes for inspiration.

A white bowl of arugula with cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese next to it

The tender arugula lettuce leaves are great on their own to enjoy as a salad, or use them to as a garnish or to make a delicious pesto with. 

A white bowl of leafy greens

What is Arugula

Arugula is a nutrient-dense leafy green with a distinct peppery flavor. It’s a popular salad green, but it’s not really a lettuce. Rather, it’s a member of the Brassicaceae family (cruciferous family), so, it’s related to broccolicauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts and kale.  It consists of small, flat leaves on long stems. Rocket originated in the Mediterranean and is also called Italian cress, salad rocket, roquette and rucola. 

What is Baby Arugula

Baby arugula (also called baby rocket) are leaves that have been harvested early while they are still small and tender. The flavor of baby rocket is more mild and less bold tasting than mature rocket.

Why is Arugula Called Rocket

Arugula is native to the Mediterranean region and southern Europe. “Rocket” comes from the northern Italian word “ruchetta”, which was then translated to “roquette” in France and became “rocket” in the United Kingdom.

How to Store Arugula

When choosing arugula at the market, the greens should look fresh and crisp without any wilted, withered or limp leaves that have brown or yellow edges. The tender leaves are best when stored it in an air-tight container or a zip-lock plastic bag in the crisper section of your refrigerator where it will stay fresh for up to 5 days. These delicate leaves can go bad quickly, so it’s best to rinse them and spin dry in a salad spinner just before serving.  

A white bowl of basil pesto chicken salad

Recipes with Arugula

All of these recipes have arugula as a main ingredient.

  • Arugula Pesto – Amazing to spread on sandwiches and burgers, swirl into soups or toss into vinaigrettes
  • Basil Pesto Chicken Salad – A delicious salad with shredded chicken, celery and tomatoes with a basil vinaigrette
  • Arugula Pesto Potato Salad – A great twist on potato salad – potatoes tossed with arugula and pesto
  • Mango Arugula Quinoa Salad – A perfect salad to serve with grilled chicken or fish
  • Quinoa Beet Salad – Delicious mix of quinoa, chopped beets, raisins and sliced almonds with a light curry salad dressing
  • Colorful Beet Salad – Gorgeous salad made with baby beets, feta cheese and walnuts, tossed in a richly flavored shallot vinaigrette. 

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