rocket; rucolo; roquette
A tender leafy green that packs a bold, peppery punch, arugula not only makes a wonderful salad addition but is also also excellent in cooked dishes such as pastas and sautés, and as a bed for grilled, seared, or roasted seafood and meats.
While the leaf always maintains its familiar flavor, the intensity changes depending upon the growing conditions and the age of the plant. Arugula that's grown in hotter temperatures or that comes from more mature plants can be more on the peppery side. Young plants, mild climates, and lots of water will result in mild, tender leaves that are perfect for salad.
Baby arugula is a label you'll often see for young, mild leaves that are a lighter shade of green and don't yet have the pronounced lobes of mature arugula.
1 small bunch mature arugula = 6 to 7 oz. = 3-1/2 to 4 loosely packed cups. 4 oz. baby arugula = 3-1/2 to 4 loosely packed cups
Substitute watercress, mâche or other spicy greens.
At the market, choose arugula based on what you plan to do with it: For salads in which arugula is the main green, look for young or baby greens. Mature, spicier arugula is good for cooking, or as an accent in a salad. Look for smooth and even coloring. Steer clear of any leaves that look leathery or show signs of yellowing.
Arugula should be thoroughly washed in a few changes of water, especially if the leaves are more mature. Arugula grows in sandy soil and tends to trap a lot of dirt. Taste a leaf before you continue with the recipe to be sure you've gotten rid of all the grit.
When you get these leaves home, drop them in a bowl of cool water to both rehydrate and wash them. Spin them dry and store them in a plastic bag in the fridge. Be sure the leaves are as dry as possible and don't overstuff the bag. A good trick for keeping young greens fresh is to fill the bag no more than half full, then fill the rest of the bag with air (like a balloon) and tie it off, keeping the air inside with the greens.