Arugula, also known as rocket, is a spicy winter green showing up this week in CSA boxes across the country, including the ones from Be Wise Ranch near San Diego.
Arugula goes by several other names, including roquette, rucola and rugola. The leaves are usually fairly small, with distinctively scalloped edges. Even though it's is a fashionable salad green, it's actually an herb and related to other spicy greens in the mustard family. Its sharp bite is more pronounced in the mature leaves; baby arugula is sweeter and more tender. If you're trying it for the first time, don't make a whole salad out of it until you figure out how well you like that intense flavor. Mix it in with other greens, or truly use it as you would use an herb like parsley. Arugula's spiciness can be wonderful when paired with sweet fruits or cheeses in salads, or when tossed with a rich pasta.
If you like the flavor on its own, try some classic combinations. We had a delicious salad last weekend with tiny leaves of baby rocket, golden beets and goat cheese. This is a classic dish for good reason; the spiciness, sweetness and pungency complement each other perfectly. Check out Elise's recipe for Arugula Salad with Beets and Goat Cheese.
You could also pair it with goat cheese, but in filled ravioli. Wilt the arugula slightly with some garlic, chop and mix with a little ricotta and goat cheese. Fill pre-made or homemade ravioli wrappers, seal and cook for just a couple minutes. Serve with a butter sauce.