Also called rocket, arugula recently soared to popularity for its peppery taste and delicate texture. A relative of radishes, arugula’s small, tender leaves have a mild bite, perfect for salads; late-season, larger leaves may be more bitter but make an excellent addition to cooked dishes. Buy emerald-green leaves or bunches that smell fresh and show no yellowing. Arugula is quite perishable, so blot dry before refrigerating, use as soon as possible, and wash gently just before use.
Uncooked arugula pairs well with sweet or rich elements, such as fruit, nuts, and cheese. Mix baby arugula leaves with fresh raspberries and toasted pine nuts or pecans; toss with a light citrus vinaigrette. Or sprinkle chopped fresh arugula atop a goat-cheese and pear pizza just before serving.
Blanch large arugula leaves just until wilted, and then stir into soups or pastas; its robust taste stands up well to sharp, acidic, or salty flavors. Add it to risotto or linguine with pancetta and olives, or to a tomato-based minestrone soup topped with Parmesan cheese.