Arugula: Our favorite mystery cruciferous topping

Posted on Posted in Europe travel

Rocket and rucola


Everyone loves arugula. Even cooler than kale, the healthy topping is on Trader Joe’s pizza, underneath fine cuts of meat, stacked on sandwiches, and tossed on everything in between.

But what is it?

The website defines arugula as a ” lesser known cruciferous vegetable that provides many of the same benefits as other vegetables of the same family, such as broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts. Arugula leaves are tender and bite-sized with a tangy flavor.”

The leaf is well known to Europeans for its health benefits, and is found on menus around the Continent, but just not under that name. The same vegetable is known to the British as “rocket,” for example, and in Italian as “la rucola.”

Americans tend to identify Italian foods by their Southern pronunciation, due to the massive immigration from the Italian South in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Prosciutto? “Pro-zhut” in much of America. Capocollo? “Gabagool” in Rhode Island delis, at least. Hence, the Southern pronunciation of “la rucola” as “ ‘a rugula” is favored in the Americas.

However you pronounce it, you’re bound to find it disguised under other names at restaurants around Europe.

Here’s a refreshing salad recipe using rocket in the U.K

Ingredients: 7oz feta, lemon juice, 2 crushed garlic cloves, a handful of flaked almonds, a bag of mixed rocket, spinach and watercress, a drizzle of olive oil, the seeds of two pomegranates, salt and pepper.

Put the feta in a shallow dish, squeeze over the lemon juice and scatter over the garlic. Leave to marinate while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Toast the almonds under a medium grill until lightly browned, then leave to cool. Cut the pomegranate in half and pop the seeds out into a bowl by bashing the skin with a spoon.

Toss together the rocket, spinach and watercress in a large salad bowl with the olive oil, and salt and freshly ground pepper. Crumble in the marinated feta, and scatter the pomegranate seeds and toasted almonds over. Serve immediately.

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