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Arugula/bitter greens for wimps?

I saw the post a couple weeks ago about what to do with CSA arugula. Lots of great-sounding salad recipes there. But, while I'm a very adventurous eater, I have to admit I've never been crazy about the bitter/peppery flavors of the lovely-looking arugula and mustard greens that I've received throughout many CSA seasons and am getting regularly now. Does anyone have any tips or recipes for easing my family and myself into a taste for these greens? Mellowing the flavors until we get used to them, i.e. arugula with training wheels? Thanks!

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  1. We'll often mix spinach and arugula because we like both, but as I think about it, it does tame the bite of the arugula quite a bit. In fact, I think some of those bagged salads may mix them as well. But that would be my suggestion, start adding some of the arugula to some spinach (presuming you already eat spinach) and see how it goes.

    1. Arugula is good and toned down when put in soups, e.g., vegetable, fish, miso. Put the arugula in right at the last moment. You can also toss in at the last moment in Asian noodle dishes.

      1. Sautee some arugula in olive oil and garlic and sprinkle with a little lemon juice and salt.

        1. make a pesto with arugula. Nuts, cheese and olive oil will tone it down and make a beautiful bright green pesto that is lively in flavor and not bitter.

          7 Replies
          1. re: scubadoo97

            I like to toss some in pasta with garlic and olive oil, and maybe a bit of stock, at the last minute -- it wilts the arugula, takes the bite out, and is DELICIOUS.

            1. re: ctscorp

              I do the same, but with rendered pancetta and no stock, and plenty of pecorino cheese as well as a good bit of pasta water. Sometimes I add lemon zest which is a nice complement to the arugula.

              1. re: ctscorp

                I just tried this suggestion since I had left over rotelli pasta in the fridge - yummy! The quick saute with olive oil plus a handful of parmesan really tamed the sharp flavors. Thanks! I'm on my way to aruguladom now. Yesterday's CSA box included another bag of it, so I'm looking forward to trying the next one of the Chows' excellent suggestions.

              2. re: scubadoo97

                Scubadoo97 beat me to it... if you're hot about pesto, this is a great use for arugula. You might also search the web for recipes under it other common name, "rocket."

                We often have it as a green salad, mixed with shrimp (steamed or grilled), parm reg shavings, and cubes of fresh buffalo mozzarella, tossed in a simple vinagrette. The mix of more rich and neutral (shrimp, mozza) with the more accented (parm reg, dressing, arugula) seems to balance each other out.

                1. re: scubadoo97

                  Seconding scubadoo97 on the pesto. If you're really sensitive to the pepperyness mix it with a couple of handfuls of baby spinach in the food processor. Tyler Florence has a good recipe here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    add golden raisins to that pesto and its even better...

                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      Yes, an argula pesto! I suggest replacing toasted pine nuts with walnuts, and replacing parmesan with a small amount of chevre. Add a few squirts of lemon and a few shavings of lemon peel and you're good to go.

                    2. i recently made pasta sauce by 1st sauteeing o.oil, garlic, chopped fresh tomatoes (& S&P) until tomatoes began to break down, then added a few handfuls of chopped arugula and some pasta water & cooked until greens were just wilted. tossed with short pasta & some parmesan & it was very nice (the greens are less peppery when cooked). you could mellow the taste even more by adding some cream or diced mozzarella or even a dollop of good whole milk yogurt (like La Fage) right at the end.

                      1. Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad. It's from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook and is pretty popular with lots of folks on this board. Arugula is an ingredient in the salad. Lots of flavors going on, so the arugula doesn't dominate. Do a search here for some of the discussion threads. And I believe the recipe is online.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Old Spice

                          I second the Zuni bread salad rec.

                        2. WE use it dressed with EVOO and lemon juice, grey salt, shaved parmesan or parm tuiles (Sp?) and crisped pancetta or crisped prosciutto. With crusty bread, it is delish. I have had that mixture as a base (sans the crisped meat) and topped with shrimp, scallops, calamari and crab (all that had been dressed in EVOO, lemon, and grey salt), add some chopped italian parsley instead of parm to top, and eaten as a full meal salad.
                          My husband who swears he does not like the taste of chlorophyll has now been convinced since I used the lettuce to top a rosemary steak sandwich instead of the traditional cheese and onions. Now I think he piles on more of the lettuce and marinade than the actual steak.
                          We just bought two large containers of arugula today!

                          1. For the mustard greens, sautee them in a little bit of pork fat or olive oil with the water that clings to the leaves after you wash them. Splash in a little bit (maybe a quarter cup for a big bunch of greens) of vinegar and sprinkle with salt about halfway through cooking. Cover and let cook until all the way done. Add water as necessary. You want them to be nice and soft before you take them out.

                            This method works with other bitter greens as well, like turnip greens, collard greens, escarole, broccoli rape, and so forth.

                            1. To tame the bitterness, make it compete for your attention with salt, sweet, and/or sour. Most of the great suggestions offered so far do just that. Salt, Parmesan, pecorino, prosciutto, miso salt pork. Currants, dried figs, or strawberries are fabulous with arugula. Lemon juice, vinegar. The more flavors, the less you will notice the bitter. And I predict you will learn to like it.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Junie D

                                A touch of honey in the vinaigrette for an arugula salad works perfectly.

                              2. arugula on any cold-cut sandwich is wonderful! especially with a drizzle of EVOO.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: C70

                                  i agree - i love it on a turkey sandwich with shallot mayo, or on a BLT instead of the L.

                                  i planted one in february but, due to our heat, it's already gone to seed (cool super-long flower stalks with little tiny green-bean-looking pods that appeared after the flowers died) guess i'll save the seeds and plant those in october

                                  1. re: hitachino

                                    I've heard that arugula isn't fussy; moreover, it probably will produce stronger tasting greens if you pull back on the love. It's supposed to be a very hearty "weed" that will grow even in the toughest of places in Sicily.

                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                      The main thing is, pick it and eat it ***while it is young and tender***... it gets stronger tasting as the plant matures. An excellent green for sowing in succession all through the spring and fall.

                                      Have one last hurrah, cooked, and then rip them out mercilessly once the taste starts to change, or you'll just be torturing yourself.

                                      Also, there are varietals that are stronger-tasting than others. Read a good catalog like Cook's Garden Supplies and they'll make the distinction clear.

                                      Huh, I just looked it up - actually, Cook's wasn't the best source for argula versus arugula. Pinetree Seeds .... used to be, but their website is re-done and GRRRRRRRR, they no longer seem to describe the difference in taste. Sorry, I guess you'll just have to experiment (and so will I!).

                                      all of Pinetree's arugula: http://superseeds.com/products.php?se...

                                2. For bitter greens that should be eaten cooked (rapini, dandelion, chards, kale, etc), blanch in salted boiling water and then shock in ice bath and drain before sauteeing. It takes the edge off.

                                  1. Epicurious has a lot of recipes for arugula salads which are quite good. The ones that might work best for you are the ones with the sweeter dressings (my current favorite is a red wine/balsamic dressing with arugula, toasted pecans and pomegranate seeds, which are now out of season; I'll substitute mandarin oranges instead). But if you branch out a little on the salad front, you might find yourself actually liking the stuff (which I love). That salad has also, by the way, been a HUGE winner with a group of teens I work with, who have never even heard of arugula. Now they are completely hooked and wanting it all the time.

                                    1. if you're going to go the salad route, i strongly suggest you try a honey mustard dressing with the arugula - a little on the sweeter side. it's the most fabulous compliment... i could plow through ungodly amounts this way ;)

                                      1. A couple of things...

                                        One, baby arugula I've had has been great while on occasion a non-baby arugula has been more bitter. Some baby arugula is so good I end up munching it out of the bag on the way home from the market. (I don't know what mineral I crave!)

                                        Two, I think arugula does not want to be wet when it's in a salad. I like a little sweetness and a little spice to balance it out. My favorite salad ever (just finished one) is:

                                        Slice half an apple really thin - could julienne if you want. (I like Gala apples for this)
                                        Put some arugula (2-3 cups?) in a plastic bag
                                        Drizzle in about 1T olive oil
                                        Squirt in about 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
                                        Shake in 1/2 cup of flaked reggiano parmesan cheese (Trader Joe version's nice)
                                        Shake all that up in the bag. Now, it's mandatory that you go toast some nuts and here's how you do that:

                                        Put a nonstick pan on a burner on medium. When it heats up, toss in a healthy handful of walnut pieces (halves are okay - slightly smaller pieces are better). Watch that carefully and kind of shake the pan when the walnut pieces begin to toast. When they start to change color a little and smell wonderful, take off burner, sprinkle nuts with 1 tsp of Chinese five spice powder (or if you don't have that I would say a little cinnamon - but not a whole teaspoon - and whatever other things you have that go into Chinese five spice powder). Shake the pan a little to distribute the powder.. you can put it on the burner for just a tad longer if you like but that burns easily... toasted is what you're going for. Dump the nuts into the middle of the bag with the other stuff already in it, shake the bag, plop onto a plate and you've got a wonderful salad.

                                        1. I just saw a Barefoot show today and she made a lemon cream sauce for fussilli, into it she mixed blanched brocolli, 1/2 cherry tomatoes, and arrugula, which I think would really help mellow it a bit. I don't rememeber this recipie from her books but you might be able to find it on line or a recent show repeat...I'm dying to make this once my CSA starts up, the weekly arrugula share is my favorite part!

                                          1. I LOVE it on pizza. I make a homemade pizza with proscuitto and cheese (of course it doesn't have to be homemade). Separately, I toss the arugula with just a little olive oil and when the pizza comes out of the oven I spread the arugula all over the top. The contrast in the crisp crust, tomato sauce, melted cheese, salty meat that is hot with the fresh arugula spiciness is lovely. I've also done this with spinach but arugula tastes the best. Pair with a Rhone red and I'm in heaven.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: huruta

                                              Since I do homemade pizza almost every weekend, I tried this. Yummy! Did it once with red sauce, once with pesto. Liked the red sauce version a little better: handmade dough, then sauce, a sprinkle of minced fresh rosemary, large mound of chopped raw arugula tossed with olive oil, and grated smoked mozzarella and parmesan on top . Goes in looking like a big pile of salad but comes out a couple minutes later wilted by the heat and the melted cheese, with little crispy bits of arugula peeking through between the cheese in places. Very tasty. Thanks, 'hounds, for your advice!